Proposed catalog of the neuroanatomy and the stratified anatomy for the 361 acupuncture points of 14 channels

J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2013 Oct;6(5):270-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Feb 7.


Background: In spite of the extensive research on acupuncture mechanisms, no comprehensive and systematic peer-reviewed reference list of the stratified anatomical and the neuroanatomical features of all 361 acupuncture points exists. This study creates a reference list of the neuroanatomy and the stratified anatomy for each of the 361 acupuncture points on the 14 classical channels and for 34 extra points.

Methods: Each acupuncture point was individually assessed to relate the point's location to anatomical and neuroanatomical features. The design of the catalogue is intended to be useful for any style of acupuncture or Oriental medicine treatment modality. The stratified anatomy was divided into shallow, intermediate and deep insertion. A separate stratified anatomy was presented for different needle angles and directions.

Results: The following are identified for each point: additional specifications for point location, the stratified anatomy, motor innervation, cutaneous nerve and sensory innervation, dermatomes, Langer's lines, and somatotopic organization in the primary sensory and motor cortices. Acupuncture points for each muscle, dermatome and myotome are also reported.

Conclusion: This reference list can aid clinicians, practitioners and researchers in furthering the understanding and accurate practice of acupuncture. Additional research on the anatomical variability around acupuncture points, the frequency of needle contact with an anatomical structure in a clinical setting, and conformational imaging should be done to verify this catalogue.

Keywords: acupuncture; acupuncture points; anatomy; cutaneous nerves; dermatome; neuroanatomy; somatotopic organization.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture / education*
  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Atlases as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Needles
  • Neuroanatomy / education*