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Intern Med. 1998 Feb;37(2):161-5.

Cervical spinal epidural abscess following acupuncture: successful treatment with antibiotics.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Miyazaki Medical College, Kiyotake.


A 67-year-old man with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus (DM) had acupuncture several times a month for chronic shoulder muscle stiffness. A few days after acupuncture in the posterior nuchal region, a low-grade fever and backache developed, and subacutely progressed. Finally he complained of gait disturbance, and then respiratory distress appeared. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated high cervical epidural abscess with massive soft tissue inflammation and vertebral osteomyelitis. Conservative treatment with antibiotics was effective and it was well documented by following serial MRIs. This case suggested that needle acupuncture should be avoided for immunocompromised subjects such as patients with poorly controlled DM.

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