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December 2019

No Shinkei Geka. 1992 Apr; 20(4): 499-503.

[Cervical spinal cord injury caused by a broken acupuncture needle: a case report]

Matsui S, Matsuoka K, Nakagawa K, Kohno K, Sakaki S.

Department of Neurological Surgery, Ehime University Medical School, Japan.

Spinal cord injury is a rare but considerable complication of acupuncture. A case with cervical spinal cord injury caused by a broken acupuncture needle was reported and sixteen previously reported cases including our case were reviewed. A 49-year-old woman was treated by herself with acupuncture on the nuchal region for occipitalgia, and the needle was accidentally broken during the treatment. Six hours later she noticed pain and numbness in the right upper and lower extremities. Neurological examination revealed slight impairment of temperature, pain and touch sensation on the right extremities. Plain X-ray film and CT scan showed a broken needle in the interspinous ligament between C1/C2 vertebrae, the tip of the needle appearing to be in the spinal canal. The needle was removed surgically nineteen days after the accident. Intraoperative fluoroscopic monitoring with injection of dye enabled the needle to be found without difficulty. Postoperative course was uneventful, and her pain and sensory impairment gradually disappeared. Once the diagnosis for cervical spinal cord injury by an acupuncture needle is made, the needle should be removed surgically as soon as possible, especially prior to the development of motor symptoms. This is because movement of the needle in the spinal cord is considered to be a main possible cause of the development and progression of symptoms.


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