Subcutaneous acupuncture needle fragments

Ray Ballinger, MD, PhD

Straub Clinic and Hospital

rballinger at


75 y/o Korean male with chest pain.



Publication Date: 31 October 2003
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History and Images

75 y/o Korean male with chest pain.

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Dozens of short pieces of wire are noted in the subcutaneous soft tissues overlying the shoulders and back.


Subcutaneous acupuncture needle fragments


Some forms of acupucture involve the deliberate placement of "permanent" silver or gold needles into the the patient. This are typically 1 cm in length and at one time may have been needles broken off deliberately but more recently involve the injection of short needles using a spring-loaded syringe. Though they are intended to remain subcutaneous, reports of migration into the abdomen and chest are present with resulting complications.


  1. Gerard PS, Wilck E, Schiano T. Imaging implications in the evaluation of permanent needle acupuncture. Clin Imaging 1993;17:36-40.