The anatomical terminology of auricular medicine

| July 4, 2011 | 1 Comment | 2,621 views

  Introduction The anatomical terminology of auricular medicine

  Adept knowledge of ear anatomy is crucial for precise location of the ear acupuncture points. Like body acupuncture points, the location of auricular acupoints is defined in anatomical language. These definitions give the practitioner a clear roadmap as to where the points are located. This anatomical language is easy to learn and essential if one chooses to utilize the ear frequently in clinical practice. Obviously, correct ear point location is also imperative in order to achieve successful results in treatment.

  Particular points are located within each ear zone, many of which are found in relation to each other. To facilitate learning these ear points, I have organized the location of 100 common ear points into 21 zones.First, the practitioner must learn the anatomical terminology for each zone of the ear.

  This terminology is presented below and illustrated in Figure 2.1.

  Framework of the ear
        21 anatomical structures

  These 21 structures constitute the anatomical framework of the ear. To assist in an easy orientation to the anatomy of the ear, the structures are grouped in relation to their parts or proximity to each other.

  Anterior aspect of the ear


  1. Helix: The outermost portion of the auricle consisting of a rim-like structure.
  2. Crus of the helix: The beginning of the helix. It originates in the cavum concha (see #11).
  3. Tubercle of the helix: A small appendage on the medial border of the outer rim of the helix, approximately at the junction of the upper and middle two thirds of the helix. The tubercle of the helix is also called Darwin’s tubercle. (Note: Many patients have very subtle and relatively undefined tubercles; hence, we must infer where it would be. To do this, divide the length of the ear in thirds. It is roughly at the upper third of the helix. See Figure 2.2 and Figure 2.3 for depictions of a pronounced tubercle and a tubercle that needs to be inferred.)
  4. Scaphoid fossa: The depression between the helix and the antihelix (see #6).
  5. Ear apex: The height of the helix. If you gently fold the ear, the ear apex is at the top where the fold occurs.


  6. Antihelix: The elevated ridge-like structure medial to the helix and running parallel to it. The antihelix and the helix are separated by the scaphoid fossa. The antihelix has three parts:
  7. Superior antihelix crus: The more lateral, superior branch of the antihelix. It bifurcates off the lower antihelix crus at the Lumbago point (see Chapter 3, #80 and Figure 3.1).
  8. Inferior antihelix crus: The more medial, inferior branch of the antihelix.
It bifurcates off of the lower antihelix crus at the Lumbago point (see Chapter 3, #80 and Figure 3.1).
9. Lower antihelix crus: The lower portion of the antihelix. The inferior and superior antihelix crura bifurcate off of the lower antihelix crus.
10. Triangular fossa:

The triangular depression bordered by the superior and inferior antihelix crura.


  11. Cavum concha: The interior portion of the auricle that has a concave surface. It is separated from the cymba concha by the crus of the helix and lies inferior to the crus of the helix.
12. Cymba concha: The interior portion of the auricle that is below the inferior antihelix crus. The cymba concha lies superior to the cavum concha with the crus of the helix dividing them.


  13. Tragus: The small ridge-like flap connected to the lateral portion of the face. The tragus is directly anterior to the external auditory meatus.
        14. Supratragic notch: The indentation above the tragus.
        15. Intertragic notch: The indentation below the tragus.
        16. Antitragus: The bump-like structure at an inferior, diagonal angle to the tragus.
        17. Lobe: The lowest portion of the auricle. The lower border of the intertragic notch demarcates the lobe’s upper border.
        18. External auditory meatus: The canal medial to the cavum concha, behind the tragus, that conducts sound waves into the inner ear.

  Posterior aspect of the ear

  19. Root of the auricle (also referred to as the Ear Root): The depression on the posterior aspect of the ear just above the tendinous flap that connects the auricle to the head.
        20. Hypertension groove: A groove-like depression formed by the posterior border of the helix. The hypertension groove runs in approximately the upper third of the groove on the posterior aspect of the ear.
21. Posterior aspect of the ear proper: The rest fo the back of the ear. Once these twenty-one structures, their names, and locations are committed to memory, one will have a firm foundation for locating the 100 most common ear points presented in this book. Redrawing the ear and its parts is an effective way to become familiar with the general shape of the ear and its anatomical parts.


  Liu, S. Auricular Diagnosis, Treatment, and Health Preservation. Science Press, Beijing, China, 1996.

  Oleson, T. Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture. Health Care Alternatives, Los Angeles, 1996.

  WHO. The Report of the Working Group on Auricular Acupuncture. World Health Organization, Lyon, France, 1990.

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