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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 581203, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/581203
Review Article

Adverse Events of Acupuncture: A Systematic Review of Case Reports

1Acupuncture Department, Shanghai Municipal Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200071, China
2Center for Integrative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, East Hall, 520 W. Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
3College of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Tuina, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
4Department of Integrative Medicine, Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai 200030, China

Received 23 December 2012; Accepted 8 February 2013

Academic Editor: Jaung-Geng Lin

Copyright © 2013 Shifen Xu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping, important in traditional Eastern medicine, are increasingly used in the West. Their widening acceptance demands continual safety assessment. This review, a sequel to one our team published 10 years ago, is an evaluation of the frequency and severity of adverse events (AEs) reported for acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping between 2000 and 2011. Relevant English-language reports in six databases were identified and assessed by two reviewers. During this 12-year period, 117 reports of 308 AEs from 25 countries and regions were associated with acupuncture (294 cases), moxibustion (4 cases), or cupping (10 cases). Country of occurrence, patient’s sex and age, and outcome were extracted. Infections, mycobacterial, staphylococcal, and others, were the main complication of acupuncture. In the previous review, we found the main source of infection to be hepatitis, caused by reusable needles. In this review, we found the majority of infections to be bacterial, caused by skin contact at acupoint sites; we found no cases of hepatitis. Although the route of infection had changed, infections were still the major complication of acupuncture. Clearly, guidelines such as Clean Needle Technique must be followed in order to minimize acupuncture AEs.