Choosing Quality Physical Exam
& Pediatric Acupuncture Tools

As your examination skills are developing you’ll want to have reliable equipment you can count on.  When you’re telling a parent what you see after an ear exam or auscultation you want to do so with confidence.  Cheap exam tools aren’t reliable which is extremely important in the beginning.  I have researched and purchased all of the tools I’ve listed below.  I’ve tried different brands and cheaper versions of various tools and have found that cheaper isn’t better. That’s why I’ve compiled this list for you because professional quality tools are expensive but worth the investment. If you’re on a budget I would start purchasing them one at a time.  The most useful and expensive items you’ll need are an otoscope and stethoscope.

Physical Exam Tools

1. Otoscope
Welch Allyn is by far the best and most reliable brand of otoscopes.  I’ve tried other brands and have been disappointed.  You have two options when buying a Welch Allyn otoscope.  You can buy a pocket scope which runs on AA batteries.  Or you can purchase the handle and the head separately.  The handle will also be compatible with heads for opthalmic and other EENT exam tools.  A quality otoscope for professional use will typically cost $200 – $600.  Buying the head and handle is the cheapest way to get the professional version of the Welch Allyn otoscope.

Option 1 – buy the all-in-one pocket scope
Welch Allyn Pocket Otoscope, 2.5v, AA battery powered, Model #22820

Option 2 – buy handle & head
Handle: Welch Allyn Professional Series Otoscope Handle, 3.5v Direct Plug-in Rechargeable, Model #71000-A

Head 1: Welch Allyn Professional Series Otoscope Head with Macro View (this is the one I have and I love it), Model #23810
Head 2: Welch Allyn Professional Series Diagnostic Otoscope Head, Model #25020

Disposable Specula: Universal Disposable Kleenspec Pediatric Specula, 2.75 mm

2. Stethoscope
Cheap stethoscopes may not give you the best sound when checking for wheezing and crackles during auscultation.   I highly recommend getting a Littmann Classic II Pediatric Stethoscope.  Prices range from $85 – $120

3. Pulse Oximeter
Finger Pulse Oximeter’s are good for kids about ages 3 and up.  I purchased a very expensive Pulse Oximeter that you can use on babies and toddlers, but found I rarely ever use it on kids that young.  So a simpler and cheaper solution is to buy a finger pulse oximeter like Acc U Rate CMS 50 Finger Pulse Oximeter.  Prices range from $25 – $60.

4. Temporal Artery Thermometer
I have a couple of Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometers and they are easy to use and reliable.  If you don’t want to fool with a sublingual thermometer, you’ll like this one.

Acupuncture & Non-Needle Tools

Pediatric acupuncture is a virtually painless procedure for children when the right tools are used.  In my clinic, I generally use three main tools: microcurrent, laser, and pediatric acupuncture needles.  Many practitioners also use a variety of shonishin tools as well.   No matter what tool you use to stimulate the acupuncture points it will have a similar therapeutic effect as acupuncture.  The difference is how long it takes, how stimulating the treatment is and whether or not the child accepts it.

needle-up-close1. Seirin J-15 Dark Green Pediatric Needles

I would prefer all children to use the pediatric needle because it is quick, effective and virtually painless.   I always use Seirin J-15 Dark Green Needles for kids.  I call these needles “taps” instead of needles when working with kids since it sounds much less scary than the word needle.  I also use these needles on sensitive adults,  sensitive points like Kidney 1 and  facial needling.  For kids under age 8 or for older kids that are Qi sensitive I will use in/out needling technique.  You certainly can use higher gauge needles, it is just a matter of knowing the tolerance level of your patient.  Seirin J-15 Dark Green Needles are available from a variety of acupuncture supply stores including Llasa OMS, Acu-Market and Kan Herb Co.

2. Pointer Plus Microcurrent Device

Not all kids are up for getting “taps” so my usual Plan B is microcurrent, aka “the tickle wand.”  Microcurrent devices place a micro amount of electrical current at the acupuncture point to stimulate it.  The Pointer Plus is the only device I’ve found suitable for pediatric patients since it has a low setting that makes it completely painless for children.  I gently place it on the acupuncture point (no need for a lot of pressure) and hold it there for 10 – 15 seconds.   It’s a good idea to get the kids involved in counting and helping you.  This empowers them and gives them some control over the treatment.  And they LOVE it!  There are fancier devices for microcurrent, but in my opinion the Pointer Plus is more than adequate for the job and is lighter and smaller than the other versions.

qipulse_web3. Qi Pulse Laser

Cold laser treatments are another effective way to stimulate the acupuncture points.   I would not recommend using the laser around the face on children.  Hold it at the point for 20 – 60 seconds.  Since the laser takes a little longer I use it less often than microcurrent.  However, sometimes kids need a change and the laser is a great tool to use.  The Qi Pulse Laser can be purchased at

4. Shonishin

Shonishin tools are used to stimulate the meridians, clear heat and improve overall zang-fu organ function by rubbing, scraping and poking the arms, legs and individual points.  You can use special tools, or like Raven Lang, you can simply use a seashell.  You want to rub the meridians you’re working until they “pink up” and then it is time to stop.  Shonishin requires more skill and practice than laser, microcurrent or even acupuncture.   Shonishin tools can be purchased from Llasa OMS.

In an effort to maintain transparency, I will make a very small commission through Amazon links in this article which help support my kid’s health blog,, which provides pediatric health information for parents and is the home of the free Pediatric Acupuncturist Directory.