Guidelines on Basic Training and Safety in Acupuncture
(1999; 35 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsSection I: Basic training in acupuncture
Close this folderSection II: Safety in acupuncture
Open this folder and view contents1. Prevention of infection
Open this folder and view contents2. Contraindications
Open this folder and view contents3. Accidents and untoward reactions
View the document4. Electrical stimulation and laser therapy
Close this folder5. Injury to important organs
View the document5.1 Areas not to be punctured
View the document5.2 Precautions to be taken
View the document6. Patient records
Open this folder and view contentsAppendix
View the documentAnnex I: List of participants

5.2 Precautions to be taken

Special care should be taken in needling points in proximity to vital organs or sensitive areas. Because of the characteristics of the needles used, the particular sites for needling, the depth of needle insertion, the manipulation techniques used, and the stimulation given, accidents may occur during treatment. In most instances they can be avoided if adequate precautions are taken. If they do occur, the acupuncturist should know how to manage them effectively and avoid any additional harm. Accidental injury to an important organ requires urgent medical or surgical help.

Chest, back and abdomen

Points on the chest, back and abdomen should be needled cautiously, preferably obliquely or horizontally, so as to avoid injury to vital organs. Attention should be paid to the direction and depth of insertion of needles.

Lung and pleura

Injury to the lung and pleura caused by too deep insertion of a needle into points on the chest, back or supraclavicular fossa may cause traumatic pneumothorax. Cough, chest pain and dyspnoea are the usual symptoms and occur abruptly during the manipulation, especially if there is severe laceration of the lung by the needle. Alternatively, symptoms may develop gradually over several hours after the acupuncture treatment.

Liver, spleen and kidney

Puncture of the liver or spleen may cause a tear with bleeding, local pain and tenderness, and rigidity of the abdominal muscles. Puncturing the kidney may cause pain in the lumbar region and haematuria. If the damage is minor the bleeding will stop spontaneously but, if the bleeding is serious, shock may follow with a drop of blood pressure.

Central nervous system

Inappropriate manipulation at points between or beside the upper cervical vertebrae, such as GV 15 yamen and GV 16 fengfu may puncture the medulla oblongata, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, sudden slowing of respiration and disorientation, followed by convulsions, paralysis or coma. Between other vertebrae above the first lumbar, too deep needling may puncture the spinal cord, causing lightning pain felt in the extremities or on the trunk below the level of puncture.

Other points

Other points which are potentially dangerous and which therefore require special skill and experience in their use include:

• BL 1 jingming and ST 1 chengqi, located close to the eyeball;
• CV 22 tiantu, in front of the trachea;
• ST 9 renying, near the carotid artery;
• SP 11 jimen and SP 12 chongmen, near the femoral artery; and
• LU 9 taiyuan on the radial artery.

Circulatory system

Care should be taken in needling areas of poor circulation (e.g. varicose veins) where there is a risk of infection, and to avoid accidental puncture of arteries (sometimes aberrant) which may cause bleeding, haematoma, arterial spasm or more serious complications when pathological change is present (e.g. aneurysm, atherosclerosis). Generally, bleeding due to puncture of a superficial blood vessel may be stopped by direct pressure.

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