A study to investigate needle insertion at Shenshu (BL23) to puncture psoas major muscle

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    OBJECTIVE: It is unknown whether the psoas major muscle, thought to be a key muscle for treatment of lower back pain, can be punctured at Shenshu (BL23).

    METHODS: Twelve dissected specimens were used for studying the needling pathway of BL23 by perpendicularly inserting the depth-measuring blade of a vernier caliper at BL23. Dimensions of psoas muscle were measured. Correlation studies were conducted. In addition, our samples were grouped by gender and underlying medical conditions for analysis.

    RESULTS: Half (50%) of the needle insertions successfully punctured psoas muscle. The mean depth of needle insertion to puncture psoas muscle (Dmin) in the group with short-term underlying medical conditions was 38.0 mm (interquartile range 29.0-51.8 mm), approximately 6 mm deeper than 32.0 (29.3-42.5) mm in the group with long-term health problems (P = 0.041). The cross-sectional area (CSA) of psoas muscle in the former group was on average approximately 1.5 times that of the latter group (P = 0.04). When the data were analysed by gender, the thickness of psoas muscle in the male group was 19.0 (6.5-24.0) mm compared to 19.5 (5.8-34.8) mm in the female group (P = 0.02). The age in the female group (P = 0.04) and the body length of the total group (P =0.04) negatively correlated to Dmin.

    CONCLUSION: Needle insertion at BL23 might be able to puncture psoas muscle. Differences in the CSA of psoas muscle and Dmin were observed in groups with short-term and long-term underlying medical conditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-133
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Integrative Medicine
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • needle insertion
    • point BL23 (Shenshu)
    • psoas muscles


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