Electrodermal Activity of Auricular Acupoints in Pediatric Patients with Functional Abdominal Pain Disorders

Rachel E. Borlack, Sophie Shan, Amanda M. Zong, Julie Khlevner, Samantha Garbers, Melanie A. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives:Functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPD) affect approximately 13.5% of children. Pharmacotherapy is often ineffective, leaving providers, and families seeking adjunctive therapies. Auriculotherapy provides treatment for pain and other symptoms, without a defined protocol for FAPD. A handheld point-finder device measuring transdermal electrical current determines active acupoints, with a higher current indicating a more active acupoint. Our objectives were to determine auricular acupoint (AA) activity in FAPD and to assess participants' attitudes towards auriculotherapy.Methods:This is a prospective double-blind study evaluating the electrodermal activity of AAs in pediatric-aged female participants with FAPD compared to healthy controls (HC). Participants completed surveys regarding demographics and interest in auriculotherapy. The electrodermal assessment evaluated 20 AAs per ear using a point-finder device. Each AA current measurement was analyzed by average relative rank and median, with a median current measurement ≥50 μA considered active.Results:We enrolled 46 female participants, 22 FAPD (mean age 15.8 years) and 24 HC (mean age 15.4 years). In FAPD, 12 of 40 AAs were active, of which only six were also active in HC. Comparison of median current and average ranking between participants demonstrated consistency. In the post-assessment survey, 86.4% of FAPD expressed interest in receiving auricular acupressure and 68.2% would travel to the clinic solely for treatment.Conclusions:Based on electrodermal measurements, we propose a treatment protocol using auriculotherapy for FAPD symptom-management. We demonstrated there is considerable patient interest in auriculotherapy. Further studies are needed to confirm the findings in a larger sample size and validate the efficacy of this treatment protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-191
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • auriculotherapy
  • electrodermal activity
  • functional abdominal pain disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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