The use of auricular examination for screening hepatic disorders

Gladys Lai Ying Cheing, Sharon Wan, Sing Kai Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

7 Scopus citations


Researches on auricular acupuncture (AA) have examined mainly its treatment effects. This study aimed to investigate the accuracy and precision of using auricular examination (AE) as a complementary diagnostic tool for screening hepatic disorders. Twenty patients suffering from liver dysfunction and 25 controls aged 18-60 years were recruited from an acute hospital. Participants were examined using three AE methods including visual inspection, electrical skin resistance measurement, and tenderness testing on the liver AA zone of both ears. Significant differences were found in visual inspection and electrical skin resistance on the AA zones between the two groups. Patients suffering from liver dysfunction tended to have at least one abnormality in skin color, appearance, presence of papules, abundance of capillary and desquamation on the ear (Relative Risk-Right ear: RR=2.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4, 6.2; Left: RR=1.8, 95% CI, 1.01, 3.1). The sensitivity for visual inspection was 0.7 for both ears; specificity was 0.76 for the (R) and 0.6 for the (L) ear. The mean difference in electrical skin resistance was 4.3Mfi (95% CI, 1.7, 6.9) for the (L) ear; 4.5MQ (95% CI, 1.5, 7.6) for the (R) ear. Our results suggest that malfunction of the liver appeared to be reflected by the presence of morphological changes on the liver AA zone. Visual inspection and electrical skin resistance on the liver AA zone are potentially sensitive to screen hepatic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalJAMS Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 03 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Auricular acupuncture
  • Complimentary and alternative therapy
  • Diagnostic tool


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