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Sci Rep. 2017 Jun 13;7(1):3369. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-03272-0.

Safety of Acupuncture: Overview of Systematic Reviews.

Chan MWC1,2, Wu XY1,3,4, Wu JCY1, Wong SYS3, Chung VCH5,6,7.

Author information

1
Hong Kong Institute of Integrative Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
2
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
3
Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
4
Hong Kong Branch of the Chinese Cochrane Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
5
Hong Kong Institute of Integrative Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. vchung@cuhk.edu.hk.
6
Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. vchung@cuhk.edu.hk.
7
Hong Kong Branch of the Chinese Cochrane Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. vchung@cuhk.edu.hk.

Abstract

Acupuncture is increasingly used worldwide. It is becoming more accepted by both patients and healthcare providers. However, the current understanding of its adverse events (AEs) is fragmented. We conducted this overview to collect all systematic reviews (SRs) on the AEs of acupuncture and related therapies. MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched from inception to December 2015. Methodological quality of included reviews was assessed with a validated instrument. Evidence was narratively reported. Seventeen SRs covering various types of acupuncture were included. Methodological quality of the reviews was overall mediocre. Four major categories of AEs were identified, which are organ or tissue injuries (13 reviews, median: 36 cases, median deaths: 4), infections (11 reviews, median: 17 cases, median deaths: 0.5), local AEs or reactions (12 reviews, median: 8.5 cases, no deaths were reported), and other complications such as dizziness or syncope (11 reviews, median: 21 cases, no deaths were reported). Minor and serious AEs can occur during the use of acupuncture and related modalities, contrary to the common impression that acupuncture is harmless. Serious AEs are rare, but need significant attention as mortality can be associated with them. Referrals should consider acupuncturists' training credibility, and patient safety should be a core part of acupuncture education.

PMID:
28611366
PMCID:
PMC5469776
DOI:
10.1038/s41598-017-03272-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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