Cervical spinal epidural abscess following acupuncture: successful treatment with antibiotics

Intern Med. 1998 Feb;37(2):161-5. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.37.161.


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.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis
  • Abscess / drug therapy
  • Abscess / etiology*
  • Acupuncture Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / therapeutic use
  • Epidural Space
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnosis
  • Osteomyelitis / drug therapy
  • Osteomyelitis / etiology
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Spinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents