No Shinkei Geka. 1986 May; 14(6): 785-7.
[Spinal cord injury by a broken acupuncture needle--a case report]
Acupuncture has been widely performed for the treatment of many different disorders in Japan. Several complications of acupuncture such as pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, serum hepatitis have been reported. Accidentally broken needle is also one of the causes of complications of acupuncture. Usually it produces little problem, but may cause spinal cord injury, as presented by this report. The patient was a 49-year-old man who received an acupuncture procedure in his left nuchal region for shoulder pain. During acupuncture the needle was accidentally broken. The needle was tried to be removed by a surgeon on the same day but it could not be found. He was seen at our hospital with no neurological deficit 3 month later. Plain X-ray films and CT scan revealed a 4 cm long needle between C2 and C3 vertebrae penetrating into the cord. The needle was removed to prevent the possible neurological deficit which might be produced by the moving needle. The operative procedure was done under operating microscope with the aids of X-ray monitoring and injected dye. The direction to reach the tail of the broken needle is most important for avoiding further spinal cord injury during procedure. The post-operative course of the patient was uneventful and he was discharged with no deficit.