Ann Dermatol.  2021 Jun;33(3):281-283. 10.5021/ad.2021.33.3.281.

Recurrent Cellulitis Associated with Acupuncture with Migratory Gold Threads

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

In Asian countries, acupuncture with gold threads has been widely used in the treatment of pain. However, several reports have suggested that the implanted gold threads can become fragmented and migrate to other parts of the body, damaging surrounding tissues. A 75-year-old female presented with diffuse erythematous edema with multiple vesicles on the right lower leg for 3 days. She had previously suffered from cellulitis on the same region twice for the last 1year. Her past medical history included acupuncture with gold threads on the back due to lumbar herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) about 10 years ago. Histopathological examination demonstrated marked subepithelial edema and diffuse perivascular infiltrate of inflammatory cells in the dermis. Simple radiography of the leg revealed numerous radiodense threads in the soft tissue. Since the patient did not receive acupuncture on any other sites except on the back, we hypothesized that the gold threads injected on the back may have migrated through the vessels to the leg. These metal fragments can cause inflammatory reaction and make the tissues more susceptible to secondary infections. The lesion gradually improved after treatment with systemic steroid and antibiotics for 1 week.

Keyword

Acupuncture; Cellulitis; Gold thread
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