Anatomical Position

When an organism is in its typical anatomical position, positional descriptive state are offered to indicate regions and also features.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsIn typical anatomical position, the limbs are placed likewise to the supine position implemented on cadavers throughout autopsy.The anatomical position of the skull is the Frankfurt plane. In this position, the reduced margins of the orbitals (eye sockets), the lower margin of the orbits, and the upper margins the the ear canals (poria) lie in the exact same horizontal plane.Because pets can readjust orientation with respect to their environments and appendages can adjust position v respect come the body, positional descriptive terms describe the organism only in its typical anatomical place to stop confusion.Key Termsappendage: A limb of the body.supine: lying on the back, reclined.anatomical position: The standard position in i beg your pardon the human body is standing through feet together, eight to the side, and also head, eyes, and also palms encountering forward.

The require for Standardization

Standard anatomical position is the body orientation offered when explicate an organism’s anatomy. Standardization is vital to prevent confusion since most organisms have the right to take on countless different positions the may change the relative placement the organs. All descriptions refer to the biology in its standard anatomical position, also when the organism’s appendages room in one more position. Thus, the typical anatomical position gives a “gold standard” when comparing the anatomy of various members the the same species.


Relative ar in the anatomical position: numerous terms are supplied to explain relative ar on the body. Cranial advert to functions closer come the head, if caudal ad to functions closer come the feet. The prior of the body is referred to as anterior or ventral, when the ago is described as posterior or dorsal. Proximal and distal describe relative place on the limbs. Proximal refers to a feature that is closer come the torso, while distal refers to a attribute that is closer to the fingers/toes. Medial and lateral refer to place relative to the midline, i m sorry is a vertical line attracted through the facility of the forehead, down through the belly button to the floor. Medial shows a function is closer to this line, while lateral indicates attributes further indigenous this line.

Standard Anatomical position in Humans

The standard anatomical place is agreed upon by the global medical community. In this position, a human is stand upright with the reduced limbs together or slightly apart, feet level on the floor and facing forward, top limbs in ~ the sides through the palms facing forward and thumbs pointing away from the body, and also head and also eyes directed directly ahead. In addition, the arms space usually inserted slightly apart from the body so the the hands execute not touch the sides. The location of the limbs, an especially the arms, have necessary implications for directional state in those appendages.

The basis because that the traditional anatomical position in humans comes from the supine position provided for analyzing human cadavers during autopsies. Dissection the cadavers was among the primary ways human beings learned about anatomy transparent history, which has tremendously influenced the ways through which anatomical understanding has developed into the scientific ar of today.


Standard anatomical position: The areas of the body in standard anatomical position, in which the body is erect.

In humans, the standard anatomical place of the skull is dubbed the Frankfurt plane. In this position, the orbitales (eye sockets), reduced margins that the orbits, and the poria (ear canal upper margins) all lie in the very same horizontal plane. This orientation represents the place of the skull if the topic were was standing upright and looking directly ahead.

It is essential to keep in mind that all anatomical descriptions are based upon the traditional anatomical place unless otherwise stated.

Directional Terms

Positional state give an exact descriptions of anatomical relationships and permit for consistency when referencing anatomical positions.

Learning Objectives

Identify the anatomical terms that define the person body in space

Key Takeaways

Key PointsDescriptions that directional state include: a) remarkable (head) and inferior (caudal), b) anterior and posterior, c) lateral and also medial, d) deep and also superficial, e) proximal and also distal, and also f) dorsal and ventral.Directional terms administer comparison the anatomical position by compare the places of different structures in the body.Key Termsdirectional terms: Directional terms are words supplied to define the ar of an anatomical framework by to compare its position to other structures in ~ the body or in ~ the orientation that the body itself.

Navigating Anatomy with Language

Directional terms provide an accurate descriptions that a structure’s location. They permit a description of anatomical position by comparing ar relative to other structures or within the remainder of the body. Typical anatomical terms because that direction include:

Superior and inferior (cranial and caudal) are used when introduce to components of the body which room toward an finish of the body. Superior frameworks are toward the head (cranial) while worse (caudal) structures space toward the feet. Examples include the superior and inferior vena cava, which bring deoxygenated blood far from the head (superior) and also from the lower body (inferior) come the heart.Anterior and also posterior are periodically used in place of superior and also inferior, respectively. These words are used an ext often for animal anatomy and also rarely and also only with really specific definition in person anatomy. Anterior describes the side of the structure facing up in the traditional anatomical position while posterior describes the bottom side. Because that example, the pituitary gland has an anterior and posterior side, each of i beg your pardon secretes different varieties of hormones.Dorsal and also ventral are periodically used in ar of anterior and also posterior, respectively. Dorsal means the earlier side or upper side, if ventral means the frontal or reduced side. This are mainly used with animal anatomy, however can be supplied in human being anatomy as lengthy as they room describing the next of one appendage. One example is the dorsal fin in fish, discovered on the upper side that the fish’s body.Lateral is supplied to describe anything closer to the political parties of the body (toward the arms, in the traditional anatomical position), while medial is provided to explain anything towards the center of the body. In general, plenty of structures that the person body space bilateral and also symmetrical through the middle of the body, such together the lung or the arms.Deep describes structures closer come the interior facility of the body. Because that example, skeleton in an appendage are located deeper than the muscles. Superficial is provided to define structures that room closer to the exterior surface of the body. For example, the outer layers of skin are superficial to deeper great of skin.Proximal and also Distal define one suggest relative to another. Proximal describes a point closer to the reference point while distal describes a suggest farther away. As soon as describing appendages, the proximal finish of the appendage connect the appendage come the body, if the distal finish is away from the body.

Diagram that anatomical terms: Directional axes in a tetrapod.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsRegional terms describe the various parts the the human body by the structures and functions that a specific region. The many basic regional terms are the axial and also appendicular regions.Axes usage directional state to define the location and also orientation the a details region.The directional term lateral is provided to describe structures divided by a left-to-right axis.Key Termsventral: ~ above the front next of the person body or the matching surface of an animal, normally the reduced surface.posterior: Nearer the caudal finish of the human body in quadrupeds or the dorsal finish in bipeds.axis: A line between two points that is used to provide direction to an anatomical region.

Regional terms in Anatomy

Regional terms define anatomy by splitting the components of the human body into different regions that contain frameworks that are affiliated in similar functions. Two primary terms are provided to describe the key regions the the body:

The Axial region makes up the main axis of the human being body and also includes the head, neck, chest, and trunk.The Appendicular region makes up the parts of the person body that affix to the axial region. This contains the limbs and also appendages.

These are the two simple categories of regional terms; however, many other terms are used to describe smaller regions within the axial and appendicular regions. Because that example, the brachial an ar consists the the eight as a component of the appendicular region, if the abdominal region consists the the abdomen as a smaller part of the axial region.

The abdominal an ar is subdivided into even smaller regions based on different functions of groups of organs and also tissues in that region. If a human being is suffering pain in one part of the abdominal region, climate the smaller local divisions can aid determine the organs connected in the trouble to better treat symptoms.

Axes explain Relative Positions

Another method for describing an ar An axis offers a directly line in between two components of the body to describe a region of the human body with straight direction. For example, blood have the right to be said to flowin a proximal or distal direction v a region significant by that axis. The X, Y, and Z axes the the Cartesian coordinate system are used define the details location of one axis in conventional anatomical position.

Many types of axes have the right to give local direction. Any kind of pair of corresponding directional terms deserve to be combined to form an axis (such as proximal-distal for an appendage).

The Dorsoventral axis (DV axis) is formed by the link of the dorsal and ventral clues of a region. The an ar between the ship (ventral) and ago (dorsal) is often defined by a DV axis.The Anterioposterior axis (AP axis) is the axis developed by the link of the anterior (top) and also posterior (bottom) ends of a region. The AP axis the a an ar is by an interpretation perpendicular come the DV axis and also vice-versa.The Left-to-right axis is the axis connecting the left and also right hand sides of a region. It is used to define the lateral political parties of a region, i m sorry in humans are often symmetrical about the center of the body. That is perpendicular come both the DV and also AP axes.

Different Directional AP Axes in three Body segment of a Horse: Axis (A) (in red) shows the AP axis the the tail, (B) shows the AP axis that the neck, and (C) shows the AP axis that the head.

Axes give much more clarity and detail for describing the ar of one anatomical region. Lock are generally used in both zoology and also human anatomy, and also can it is in paired with body plane to give even much more detail come anatomical direction, region, and also location.

Body Planes and also Sections

There are three straightforward reference planes offered in anatomy: the sagittal plane, the coronal plane, and the transverse plane.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsA coronal or frontal plane divides the body into dorsal and ventral (back and also front, or posterior and also anterior) portions.A transverse plane, also known as an axial aircraft or cross-section, divides the body into cranial and caudal (head and tail) portions.A sagittal aircraft divides the body into sinister and also dexter (left and also right) portions.Body planes have several offers within the anatomy field, consisting of in clinical imaging, descriptions of human body motion, and embryology.Key Termscoronal plane: any vertical plane that divides the body right into anterior and also posterior (belly and also back) sections.transverse plane: Any airplane that divides the body right into superior and also inferior parts, approximately perpendicular to the spine.sagittal plane: any imaginary airplane parallel come the average plane.

What are Body Planes?

Body plane are theoretical geometric planes used to division the body into sections. Lock are commonly used in both human and zoological anatomy to define the ar or direction of bodily structures. Reference planes room the traditional planes offered in anatomical terminology and also include:

The sagittal airplane (lateral or Y-Z plane) divides the body right into sinister and dexter (left and also right) sides. The midsagittal (median) airplane is in the midline with the facility of the body, and also all various other sagittal planes room parallel to it.The coronal plane (frontal or Y-X plane) divides the body right into dorsal and also ventral (back and front) portions. It also separates the anterior and also posterior portions.The transverse airplane (axial or X-Z plane) divides the body into superior and inferior (head and also tail) portions. It is generally a horizontal airplane through the center of the body and is parallel come the ground.

While these are the significant reference airplane of the body, various other planes are commonly used in relation to this three. A longitudinal plane is any plane perpendicular come the transverse plane, when parasaggital planes are parallel to the saggital plane.The coronal plane, the sagittal plane, and also the parasaggital plane are examples of longitudinalplanes.


Anatomical planes in a Human: There space three straightforward planes in zoological anatomy: sagittal, coronal, and transverse. A human being in the anatomical position, deserve to be explained using a coordinate mechanism with the Z-axis going indigenous front to back, the X-axis going native left come right, and also the Y-axis walking from approximately down.

Applications of human body Planes

Medical imaging techniques such together sonography, CT scans, MRI scans, or pets scans are one of the primary applications of body planes. By imaging a patient in traditional anatomical position, a radiologist can construct an X-Y-Z axis around the patience to use body planes to the images. The planes deserve to then be offered to identify and also locate the positions of the patient’s interior organs. Individual organs can likewise be split by airplane to help identify smaller sized structures within that organ.

Body plane are offered to define anatomical motion in the X-Y-Z coordinate system that the body moves through. An anatomist could model a limb’s variety of motion by measuring i m sorry planes the limb have the right to move through and also how far it is able to travel.

Anatomical adjust during embryological advance is likewise described and measured through body planes. Because that example, throughout human embryonic advance the coronal aircraft is horizontal, however becomes vertical as the embryo establishes into a fetus. In to compare embryology, body planes administer a basis for comparing the means in i m sorry different types of organisms develop anatomically within the womb.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe dorsal cavity consists of the primary organs that the nervous system, including the mind and spinal cord.The diaphragm is a paper of muscle that separates the thoracic cavity indigenous the ab cavity.Special membrane organization surround the human body cavities, such as the meninges of the dorsal cavity and the mesothelium of the ventral cavity.The mesothelium consists of the pleura of the lungs, the pericardium that the heart, and the peritoneum the the abdominopelvic cavity.Key Termsabdominoplevic cavity: The ventral human body chamber that contains the abdominal cavity (primarily digestive system) and also the pelvic cavity (primarily reproductive system).dorsal cavity: The cavity in the ago of the human body that has the cranial and vertebral cavities, which home the mind and spinal cord respectively.Thoracic Cavity: The ventral human body chamber that has the pericardial cavity (the heart) and the pleural cavity (the lungs).

By the broadest definition, a body cavity is any type of fluid-filled an are in a multicellular organism. However, the hatchet usually refers to the room where interior organs develop, situated between the skin and the outer lining the the gut cavity.”The person body cavity,” usually refers come the ventral human body cavity since it is by far the largest one in volume. Blood vessels room not considered cavities yet may be held within cavities. Many cavities provide room for the offal to readjust to changes in the organism’s position. Castle usually contains protective membranes and sometimes skeleton that defend the organs.

Anatomical terminology for body cavities: Humans have actually multiple human body cavities, consisting of the cranial cavity, the vertebral cavity, the thoracic cavity (containing the pericardial cavity and also the pleural cavity), the abdominal muscle cavity, and the pelvic cavity. In mammals, the diaphragm off the thoracic cavity native the abdominal cavity.


The dorsal cavity is a constant cavity situated on the dorsal side of the body. It houses the organs of the upper central nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. The meninges is a multi-layered membrane in ~ the dorsal cavity that envelops and also protects the brain and spinal cord.


The cranial cavity is the anterior section of the dorsal cavity consists of the space inside the skull. This cavity contains the brain, the meninges the the brain, and cerebrospinal fluid.


The vertebral cavity is the posterior part of the dorsal cavity and contains the structures within the vertebral column. These include the spinal cord, the meninges the the spinal cord, and the fluid-filled spaces in between them. This is the many narrow of all body cavities, sometimes explained as threadlike.


The ventral cavity, the interior space in the former of the body, contains many various organ systems. The organs in ~ the ventral cavity are additionally called viscera. The ventral cavity has actually anterior and posterior portions separated by the diaphragm, a paper of bones muscle discovered beneath the lungs.


The thoracic cavity is the anterior ventral body cavity discovered within the rib cage in the torso. It homes the main organs the the cardiovascular and also respiratory systems, such as the heart and also lungs, but also includes organs from other systems, such together the esophagus and the thymus gland. The thoracic cavity is inside wall by two types of mesothelium, a type of membrane organization that lines the ventral cavity: the pleura lining the the lungs, and the pericadium lining that the heart.


The abdominoplevic cavity is the posterior ventral human body cavity found beneath the thoracic cavity and also diaphragm. That is generally divided into the abdominal muscle and pelvic cavities. The abdominal muscle cavity is not included within bone and also houses numerous organs that the digestive and also renal systems, and some offal of the endocrine system, such together the adrenal glands. The pelvic cavity is contained within the pelvis and also houses the bladder and reproductive system. The abdominopelvic cavity is inside wall by a kind of mesothelium called the peritoneum.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe abdominopelvic cavity deserve to be subdivided into 4 quadrants and nine areas.The quadrants are labeled by location: the right upper, ideal lower, left upper, and left lower quadrants.The nine areas are smaller than the 4 abdominopelvic quadrants and also include the appropriate hypochondriac, right lumbar, ideal illiac, epigastric, umbilical, hypogastric (or pubic), left hypochondriac, left lumbar, and left illiac divisions.The perineum is sometimes considered to it is in the tenth division.The function of the abdominal divisions is to describe local anatomy in the abdomen, and to aid clinicians recognize which organ and tissues are associated in a an illness based on which regions experience pain.Key Termsleft upper quadrant: The left upper quadrant is the ar of the left section of the liver, the larger part of the stomach, the pancreas, left kidney, spleen, sections of the transverse and descending colon, and also parts the the tiny intestine.Right top quadrant: The appropriate upper quadrant includes the right portion of the liver, gallbladder, right kidney, a small part of the stomach, sections of the ascending and also transverse colon, and parts that the little intestine.left lower quadrant: The left lower quadrant homes the bulk of the small intestine, several of the big intestine, the left mrs reproductive organs, and the left ureter.nine divisions: An alternative system for separating the abdominopelvic cavity right into regions.right reduced quadrant: In the right reduced quadrant sits the cecum, appendix, component of the tiny intestines, the right female reproductive organs, and the right ureter.

Anatomists and also medical personnel divide the abdominopelvic cavity into smaller regions to facilitate study and also discussion. These divisions are often used to categorize the individual ab organs by their location and duty and are offered by clinicians to aid diagnose the source of abdominal muscle pain and also determine ideal treatment. The most common divisions for the abdominopelvic an ar are the four quadrants and also nine regions.

Abdominal nine divisions (a) and also quadrant regions (b): The abdomen is subdivided into 4 quadrants and nine areas.

Abdominal four Quadrants

The abdominopelvic an ar can be separated into four quadrants. This quadrants are defined by the intersection that the saggital plane with the umbilical plane (the transverse aircraft through the navel). Clinicians usage these areas to determine the organs and also tissues that might be leading to pain or discomfort in the region.

Right top Quadrant

The best upper quadrant includes the right section of the liver, the gallbladder, best kidney, a small section of the stomach, the duodenum, the head that the pancreas, portions of the ascending and also transverse colon, and also parts of little intestine. Ache in this region is associated with infection and also inflammation in the gallbladder and liver or peptic ulcers in the stomach.

Left top Quadrant

The left upper quadrant is the location of the left section of the liver, component of the stomach, the pancreas, left kidney, spleen, parts of the transverse and descending colon, and parts that the tiny intestine. Pains in this region is linked with malrotation of the intestine and colon.

Right reduced Quadrant

In the right lower quadrant sits the cecum, appendix, part of the tiny intestines, the right half of the female reproductive system, and the appropriate ureter. Pain in this region is many commonly linked with appendicitis.

Left reduced Quadrant

The left reduced quadrant dwellings the bulk of the tiny intestine, few of the big intestine, the left fifty percent of the woman reproductive system, and also the left ureter. Pain in this region is generally connected with colitis (inflammation that the large intestine) and pelvic inflammatory condition and ovarian cysts in females.

Abdominal nine Divisions

The nine divisions of the abdominopelvic region are smaller than the four quadrants, enabling for a an ext detailed discussion. These departments are significant by two parasagittal and also two transverse airplane centered around the navel. Many organs are part of many regions, including the gallbladder, duodenum, stomach, kidneys, spleen, tiny intestine and also colon. The perineum (the area beneath the hypogastric an ar at the bottom of the pelvic cavity) is sometimes thought about to be a tenth division in this system.

Right Hypochondriac

The best hypochondriac region contains the right portion of the liver, the gallbladder, the appropriate kidney, and also parts the the small intestine.

Left Hypochondriac

The left hypochondriac an ar contains part of the spleen, the left kidney, part of the stomach, the pancreas, and also parts the the colon.


The epigastric (above stomach) region contains the majority of the stomach, part of the liver, component of the pancreas, component of the duodenum, component of the spleen, and the adrenal glands. This region pushes out when the diaphragm contracts during breathing.

Right Lumbar

The best lumbar region consists the the gallbladder, the right kidney, component of the liver, and the ascending colon.

Left Lumbar

The left lumbar an ar consists that the to decrease colon, the left kidney, and part of the spleen.


The umbilical region contains the umbilicus (navel), and many parts of the small intestine, together as component of the duodenum, the jejunum, and the illeum. It additionally contains the transverse colon (the section between the ascending and descending colons) and also the bottom parts of both the left and also right kidney.

Right Iliac

The best iliac an ar contains the appendix, cecum, and the best iliac fossa. That is also commonly described as the appropriate inguinal region. Pains in this area is generally linked with appendicitis.

Left Iliac

The left illiac region contains part of the descending colon, the sigmoid colon, and also the appropriate illiac fossa. That is also commonly dubbed the left inguinal region.

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The hypogastric region (below the stomach) includes the organs approximately the pubic bone. These include bladder, part of the sigmoid colon, the anus, and also many guts of the reproductive system, such as the uterus and also ovaries in females and also the prostate in males.