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Altern Ther Health Med. 2016 Mar;22(3):25-30.

Perforators, the Underlying Anatomy of Acupuncture Points.


Context • As a critical concept in acupuncture, acupuncture points, or acupoints for short, are currently believed to be 3-dimensional structures composed of skin, muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and other special tissues. No known specific tissue or organ has been confirmed to be an acupoint. However, from a microsurgeon's point of view, a special vascular structure exists around each acupoint (ie, perforators or arterioles of 0.3-1.5 mm that pierce deeply through the fascia). Objective • The current research team investigated the theory that perforators are the anatomical basis of acupoints. Design • A reference list of acupoints and of perforators near the acupoints was proposed, and the distributions were analyzed. Using the World Health Organization (WHO) list, "Standard Acupuncture Point Locations in the Western Pacific Region," 2 experienced acupuncturists identified the needling depth and angle as well as verified the acupoint locations. Perforators with amplitudes of 1 cm or more were identified by 3 veteran microsurgeons. Setting • The study was carried out in an osteopathic research center at the 89th Hospital of the People's Liberation Army, in Weifang, Shandong, China. From October 2013 to October 2014, patients who required skin flap transplantation were enrolled for observation. Outcome Measures • To evaluate the theory, the current research team observed subcutaneous perforating points in flap donor sites and operative incision areas and compared those points with the acupoints located by acupuncturists. Results • The perforators and acupoints were found to be closely correlated. Several distribution patterns of acupoints and perforators have emerged and further confirmed the research team's theory. Conclusions • The hypothesis could facilitate theoretical understanding of the mechanism and essence of acupuncture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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