Dry needling causes a double pneumothorax

Presentation A 24-year-old newly graduated junior doctor presented to the emergency department with acute onset chest pain, haemoptysis and exertional dyspnoea following a dry needling session. Diagnosis Chest x-ray showed bilateral pneumothoraces, worse on the right side.

Treatment The bilateral pneumothoraces were treated conservatively with supplemental oxygen initially. On the second day of admission, repeat chest x-ray demonstrated a worsening right sided pneumothorax. While vitally stable, the patient however had become increasingly dyspnoeic, and a needle aspiration was performed on the right side with good effect.

Conclusion The anatomical location targeted along with the patients low-normal BMI makes her high-risk when considering the skin-to-pleura distance. Although the incidence of pneumothorax is low, it is imperative that we improve awareness both for the treating physician and the diagnosing clinician.

We must begin to fill the distinct lack in available literature surrounding the potential adverse effects of dry needling.

Reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35420007/

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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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