J Korean Soc Emerg Med.  2022 Aug;33(4):416-420.

Deleterious consequence of acupuncture: case report of acute cervical epidural hematoma

  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Dankook University Hospital, Cheonan, Korea


Acupuncture, one of oriental medicine’s crucial treatment methods, is a popular practice around the world. Although its mechanism of effect remains uncertain and unknown, many people have confidence in this treatment method. Ironically, due to its rise in popularity, there are increased reports of treatment complications. We present here a case where a 75- year-old patient suffered acute cervical epidural hemorrhage mimicking symptoms of acute disc rupture, immediately after being administered acupuncture on the neck. Fortunately, the patient required no surgical intervention since his motor symptoms spontaneously improved with only pain management. After a close observation period of 10 days, the patient was discharged with mild radiculopathy. This case was unique since it mimicked the symptoms of acute disc rupture or severe stenosis. Thus, to successfully manage patients, the initial history taking at the emergency room is crucial. Patients should always consider that even though the reported complication rate for acupuncture is very low, there is a possibility of severe adverse effects, such as the consequences seen in this case.


Acupuncture; Hematoma epidural spinal
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