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Rare but serious complications of acupuncture: traumatic lesions
  1. Elmar Peuker, head of department,
  2. Dietrich Grönemeyer, professor
  1. The Grönemeyer-Institute of Microtherapy, Department of Traditional Medicine, University of Witten-Herdecke, Universitätsstrasse 140, D-44799 Bochum, Germany
  1. peuker{at}


Acupuncture has a reputation among the public of being safe. Although recently performed prospective studies on the frequency of adverse effects of acupuncture found no severe complication, since 1965 many case reports of serious or even life-threatening incidents caused by acupuncture have appeared in the scientific literature.

The most frequently reported complications are pneumothorax and lesions of the spinal cord. Severe injuries of peripheral nerves and blood vessels due to acupuncture seem to be very rare.

Although case reports do not produce reliable data on the frequency of adverse events, information on sources of application errors can be extracted to increase the quality of acupuncture in education and therapy.

All traumatic injuries described in this article could be avoided if practitioners had better anatomical knowledge, applied existing anatomical knowledge better, or both.

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