Anatomical Position

When an biology is in its traditional anatomical position, positional descriptive state are offered to show regions and features.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsIn traditional anatomical position, the limbs are placed an in similar way to the supine position enforced on cadavers during autopsy.The anatomical place of the skull is the Frankfurt plane. In this position, the reduced margins the the orbitals (eye sockets), the reduced margin that the orbits, and also the upper margins the the ear canals (poria) lie in the exact same horizontal plane.Because animals can change orientation through respect to their environments and also appendages can adjust position v respect come the body, positional descriptive terms describe the organism only in its conventional anatomical position to protect against confusion.Key Termsappendage: A body of the body.supine: lied on the back, reclined.anatomical position: The standard position in which the body is standing v feet together, arms to the side, and head, eyes, and palms dealing with forward.

The require for Standardization

Standard anatomical place is the human body orientation provided when describing an organism’s anatomy. Standardization is important to avoid confusion because most organisms have the right to take on plenty of different positions the may change the family member placement the organs. Every descriptions describe the biology in its traditional anatomical position, even when the organism’s appendages are in another position. Thus, the traditional anatomical position offers a “gold standard” when comparing the anatomy of different members of the very same species.


Relative location in the anatomical position: plenty of terms are offered to describe relative ar on the body. Cranial ad to features closer to the head, while caudal advert to functions closer come the feet. The front of the body is described as anterior or ventral, if the back is referred to as posterior or dorsal. Proximal and distal describe relative place on the limbs. Proximal describes a function that is closer come the torso, when distal refers to a attribute that is closer to the fingers/toes. Medial and also lateral express to position relative come the midline, i beg your pardon is a vertical line drawn through the facility of the forehead, down through the belly button to the floor. Medial shows a feature is closer to this line, while lateral indicates features further indigenous this line.

Standard Anatomical position in Humans

The conventional anatomical place is agreed ~ above by the global medical community. In this position, a person is standing upright v the lower limbs with each other or slightly apart, feet level on the floor and also facing forward, upper limbs at the sides with the palms facing forward and also thumbs pointing away from the body, and head and also eyes directed right ahead. In addition, the arms room usually inserted slightly except the human body so the the hands execute not touch the sides. The positions of the limbs, specifically the arms, have essential implications for directional terms in those appendages.

The basis because that the typical anatomical place in humans originates from the supine position supplied for evaluating human cadavers during autopsies. Dissection that cadavers was one of the major ways people learned around anatomy transparent history, which has tremendously influenced the ways by which anatomical understanding has arisen into the scientific ar of today.


Standard anatomical position: The regions of the body in conventional anatomical position, in which the human body is erect.

In humans, the conventional anatomical position of the skull is referred to as the Frankfurt plane. In this position, the orbitales (eye sockets), reduced margins the the orbits, and the poria (ear canal upper margins) every lie in the very same horizontal plane. This orientation to represent the place of the skull if the topic were was standing upright and looking straight ahead.

It is vital to keep in mind that every anatomical explanation are based upon the standard anatomical place unless otherwise stated.

Directional Terms

Positional state give specific descriptions that anatomical relationship and permit for consistency once referencing anatomical positions.

Learning Objectives

Identify the anatomical state that specify the human body in space

Key Takeaways

Key PointsDescriptions that directional terms include: a) remarkable (head) and inferior (caudal), b) anterior and also posterior, c) lateral and medial, d) deep and also superficial, e) proximal and also distal, and f) dorsal and also ventral.Directional terms carry out comparison the anatomical position by comparing the places of various structures in the body.Key Termsdirectional terms: Directional terms are words supplied to explain the location of an anatomical structure by comparing its place to other structures in ~ the body or within the orientation of the body itself.

Navigating Anatomy through Language

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

Superior and inferior (cranial and also caudal) are used when introduce to parts of the human body which space toward an end of the body. Superior frameworks are toward the head (cranial) while worse (caudal) structures room toward the feet. Examples include the superior and also inferior vena cava, which carry deoxygenated blood far from the head (superior) and also from the lower body (inferior) to the heart.Anterior and posterior are occasionally used in location of superior and inferior, respectively. This words are used an ext often for animal anatomy and rarely and only with an extremely specific an interpretation in human anatomy. Anterior refers to the side of the structure dealing with up in the conventional anatomical place while posterior describes the bottom side. Because that example, the pituitary gland has an anterior and also posterior side, every of which secretes different varieties of hormones.Dorsal and ventral are sometimes used in place of anterior and posterior, respectively. Dorsal method the ago side or top side, if ventral way the frontal or lower side. This are greatly used with animal anatomy, but can be provided in person anatomy as long as they space describing the next of an appendage. One instance is the dorsal fin in fish, uncovered on the top side of the fish’s body.Lateral is offered to define anything closer to the political parties of the body (toward the arms, in the conventional anatomical position), while medial is offered to explain anything toward the center of the body. In general, countless structures that the human body room bilateral and also symmetrical v the middle of the body, such as the lungs or the arms.Deep refers to structures closer to the interior center of the body. For example, bones in one appendage are located deeper 보다 the muscles. Superficial is offered to define structures that room closer to the exterior surface of the body. Because that example, the outer layers that skin are superficial to deeper great of skin.Proximal and Distal explain one allude relative come another. Proximal describes a suggest closer come the reference point while distal refers to a suggest farther away. As soon as describing appendages, the proximal end of the appendage associate the appendage come the body, while the distal end is far from the body.

Diagram of anatomical terms: Directional axes in a tetrapod.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsRegional terms explain the various parts the the body by the structures and also functions of a details region. The most basic local terms space the axial and appendicular regions.Axes use directional terms to describe the location and also orientation that a details region.The directional term lateral is offered to describe structures divided by a left-to-right axis.Key Termsventral: top top the front next of the person body or the corresponding surface of one animal, commonly the reduced surface.posterior: Nearer the caudal finish of the body in quadrupeds or the dorsal end in bipeds.axis: A line in between two points that is supplied to give direction come an anatomical region.

Regional state in Anatomy

Regional terms describe anatomy by splitting the parts of the body into various regions the contain structures that are associated in similar functions. Two main terms are used to describe the key regions of the body:

The Axial an ar makes up the key axis the the human body and includes the head, neck, chest, and trunk.The Appendicular an ar makes up the components of the person body that affix to the axial region. This consists of the limbs and appendages.

These are the two basic categories of local terms; however, countless other terms are offered to explain smaller regions within the axial and also appendicular regions. For example, the brachial region consists of the arm as a component of the appendicular region, if the abdominal an ar consists that the abdomen as a smaller part of the axial region.

The abdominal an ar is subdivided into even smaller regions based on different attributes of groups of organs and also tissues in the region. If a person is enduring pain in one component of the abdominal muscle region, climate the smaller local divisions can aid determine the organs connected in the trouble to much better treat symptoms.

Axes describe Relative Positions

Another method for describing an ar An axis supplies a straight line in between two components of the body to describe a region of the human body with linear direction. Because that example, blood can be claimed to flowin a proximal or distal direction through a region significant by the axis. The X, Y, and Z axes of the Cartesian coordinate system are used explain the certain location of one axis in conventional anatomical position.

Many varieties of axes deserve to give regional direction. Any type of pair of matching directional terms deserve to be combined to form an axis (such as proximal-distal for an appendage).

The Dorsoventral axis (DV axis) is developed by the link of the dorsal and also ventral points of a region. The region between the ship (ventral) and earlier (dorsal) is often described by a DV axis.The Anterioposterior axis (AP axis) is the axis created by the connection of the anterior (top) and also posterior (bottom) ends of a region. The AP axis that a region is by meaning perpendicular to the DV axis and vice-versa.The Left-to-right axis is the axis connecting the left and right hand sides of a region. It is supplied to define the lateral political parties of a region, which in people are often symmetrical roughly the facility of the body. It 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) mirrors the AP axis of the tail, (B) mirrors the AP axis that the neck, and (C) shows the AP axis of the head.

Axes give much more clarity and also detail because that describing the place of one anatomical region. They are typically used in both zoology and also human anatomy, and also can it is in paired v body planes to give even more detail come anatomical direction, region, and also location.

Body Planes and also Sections

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

Key Takeaways

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

What space Body Planes?

Body plane are hypothetical geometric planes supplied to division the body into sections. They are typically used in both human and zoological anatomy to explain the location or direction that bodily structures. Reference planes are 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 also dexter (left and right) sides. The midsagittal (median) plane is in the midline v the facility of the body, and also all other sagittal planes are parallel come it.The coronal plane (frontal or Y-X plane) divides the body right into dorsal and also ventral (back and front) portions. It additionally separates the anterior and posterior portions.The transverse aircraft (axial or X-Z plane) divides the body into superior and also inferior (head and also tail) portions. That is frequently a horizontal airplane through the facility of the body and is parallel come the ground.

While these are the major reference planes of the body, other planes are generally used in relation to these three. A longitudinal aircraft is any aircraft perpendicular come the transverse plane, when parasaggital planes are parallel come the saggital plane.The coronal plane, the sagittal plane, and the parasaggital airplane are instances of longitudinalplanes.


Anatomical plane in a Human: There are three straightforward planes in zoological anatomy: sagittal, coronal, and transverse. A person in the anatomical position, can be defined using a coordinate mechanism with the Z-axis going indigenous front come back, the X-axis going from left to right, and also the Y-axis walk from as much as down.

Applications of human body Planes

Medical imaging approaches such together sonography, CT scans, MRI scans, or pets scans are among the primary applications of human body planes. Through imaging a patient in conventional anatomical position, a radiologist can construct an X-Y-Z axis about the patience to apply body planes come the images. The planes have the right to then be used to identify and also locate the positions of the patient’s inner organs. Separation, personal, instance organs can likewise be divided by planes to assist identify smaller structures within the organ.

Body planes are supplied to explain anatomical motion in the X-Y-Z coordinate mechanism that the body moves through. An anatomist can model a limb’s variety of motion by measuring i beg your pardon planes the limb can move through and how far it is able to travel.

Anatomical change during embryological advance is also described and also measured with body planes. For example, throughout human embryonic breakthrough the coronal airplane is horizontal, yet becomes vertical as the embryo establishes into a fetus. In compare embryology, body planes administer a basis because that comparing the methods in i m sorry different varieties of organisms build anatomically in ~ the womb.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe dorsal cavity has the major organs the the concerned system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord.The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal muscle cavity.Special membrane organization surround the human body cavities, such together the meninges of the dorsal cavity and also the mesothelium of the ventral cavity.The mesothelium is composed of the pleura of the lungs, the pericardium the the heart, and also the peritoneum that the abdominopelvic cavity.Key Termsabdominoplevic cavity: The ventral body chamber that includes the abdominal muscle cavity (primarily digestive system) and the pelvic cavity (primarily reproductive system).dorsal cavity: The cavity in the ago of the body that includes the cranial and also vertebral cavities, which house the brain and spinal cord respectively.Thoracic Cavity: The ventral human body chamber that includes the pericardial cavity (the heart) and the pleural cavity (the lungs).

By the broadest definition, a body cavity is any type of fluid-filled space in a multicell organism. However, the hatchet usually refers to the room where interior organs develop, located between the skin and the external lining the the gut cavity.”The human body cavity,” typically refers come the ventral body cavity because it is by far the biggest one in volume. Blood vessels space not considered cavities but may be organized within cavities. Most cavities carry out room because that the guts to adjust to changes in the organism’s position. Castle usually has protective membranes and also sometimes bones that defend the organs.

Anatomical terminology because that body cavities: Humans have 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 cavity, and also the pelvic cavity. In mammals, the diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal muscle cavity.


The dorsal cavity is a continuous cavity located on the dorsal next of the body. It houses the offal of the upper main nervous system, including the mind and the spinal cord. The meninges is a multi-layered membrane in ~ the dorsal cavity the envelops and also protects the mind and spinal cord.


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


The vertebral cavity is the posterior section of the dorsal cavity and also contains the frameworks within the vertebral column. These incorporate the spinal cord, the meninges the the spinal cord, and also the fluid-filled spaces between them. This is the many narrow of all body cavities, sometimes described as threadlike.


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


The thoracic cavity is the anterior ventral human body cavity discovered within the rib cage in the torso. It residences the primary organs that the cardiovascular and also respiratory systems, such together the heart and lungs, but additionally includes organs from other systems, such together the esophagus and also the thymus gland. The thoracic cavity is inside wall by two varieties of mesothelium, a kind of membrane tissue that currently the ventral cavity: the pleura lining that the lungs, and also the pericadium lining of the heart.


The abdominoplevic cavity is the posterior ventral human body cavity found beneath the thoracic cavity and diaphragm. It is generally separated into the abdominal and pelvic cavities. The ab cavity is not consisted of within bone and also houses plenty of organs the the digestive and also renal systems, as well as some guts of the endocrine system, such together the adrenal glands. The pelvic cavity is contained within the pelvis and houses the bladder and also reproductive system. The abdominopelvic cavity is inside wall by a type of mesothelium called the peritoneum.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe abdominopelvic cavity can be subdivided into 4 quadrants and also nine areas.The quadrants room labeled through location: the best upper, ideal lower, left upper, and also left reduced quadrants.The nine regions are smaller than the four abdominopelvic quadrants and also include the ideal hypochondriac, ideal lumbar, appropriate illiac, epigastric, umbilical, hypogastric (or pubic), left hypochondriac, left lumbar, and also left illiac divisions.The perineum is sometimes taken into consideration to be the tenth division.The function of the abdominal divisions is come describe local anatomy in the abdomen, and also to aid clinicians identify which organ and also tissues are involved in a disease based on which areas experience pain.Key Termsleft upper quadrant: The left top quadrant is the ar of the left part of the liver, the larger part of the stomach, the pancreas, left kidney, spleen, sections of the transverse and also descending colon, and also parts the the little intestine.Right upper quadrant: The right upper quadrant consists of the right section of the liver, gallbladder, ideal kidney, a small portion of the stomach, parts of the ascending and transverse colon, and also parts the the small intestine.left reduced quadrant: The left lower quadrant houses the bulk of the little intestine, some of the huge intestine, the left mrs reproductive organs, and also the left ureter.nine divisions: An alternate system for separating the abdominopelvic cavity right into regions.right reduced quadrant: In the right reduced quadrant sits the cecum, appendix, part of the small intestines, the ideal female reproductive organs, and also the appropriate ureter.

Anatomists and also medical personnel division the abdominopelvic cavity into smaller areas to facilitate study and discussion. These departments are often used come categorize the individual abdominal muscle organs by their location and role and are used by clinicians to assist diagnose the source of abdominal pain and also determine appropriate treatment. The most usual divisions because that the abdominopelvic an ar are the four quadrants and nine regions.

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

Abdominal 4 Quadrants

The abdominopelvic an ar can be divided into four quadrants. This quadrants are identified by the intersection the the saggital airplane with the umbilical airplane (the transverse plane through the navel). Clinicians use these areas to determine the organs and tissues that may be bring about pain or uncomfortable in the region.

Right upper Quadrant

The ideal upper quadrant consists of the right portion of the liver, the gallbladder, appropriate kidney, a small part of the stomach, the duodenum, the head the the pancreas, parts of the ascending and also transverse colon, and parts of tiny intestine. Pains in this an ar is connected with infection and inflammation in the gallbladder and liver or peptic ulcers in the stomach.

Left upper Quadrant

The left top quadrant is the location of the left section of the liver, component of the stomach, the pancreas, left kidney, spleen, sections of the transverse and descending colon, and also parts that the small intestine. Ache in this an ar is connected with malrotation of the intestine and colon.

Right reduced Quadrant

In the right reduced quadrant sits the cecum, appendix, component of the little intestines, the right half of the woman reproductive system, and also the ideal ureter. Pain in this an ar is most commonly connected with appendicitis.

Left reduced Quadrant

The left lower quadrant residences the bulk of the tiny intestine, few of the large intestine, the left fifty percent of the woman reproductive system, and the left ureter. Ache in this region is generally associated with colitis (inflammation of the large intestine) and pelvic inflammatory an illness and ovarian cysts in females.

Abdominal ripe Divisions

The nine departments of the abdominopelvic an ar are smaller sized than the four quadrants, enabling for a an ext detailed discussion. These divisions are significant by two parasagittal and two transverse plane centered about the navel. Most organs are component of multiple regions, consisting of the gallbladder, duodenum, stomach, kidneys, spleen, tiny intestine and also colon. The perineum (the area in ~ the hypogastric region at the bottom the the pelvic cavity) is sometimes taken into consideration to be a tenth division in this system.

Right Hypochondriac

The best hypochondriac an ar contains the right part of the liver, the gallbladder, the appropriate kidney, and also parts that the small intestine.

Left Hypochondriac

The left hypochondriac region contains component of the spleen, the left kidney, component of the stomach, the pancreas, and parts the the colon.


The epigastric (above stomach) region contains the bulk of the stomach, component of the liver, part of the pancreas, part of the duodenum, component of the spleen, and also the adrenal glands. This an ar pushes out as soon as the diaphragm contracts during breathing.

Right Lumbar

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

Left Lumbar

The left lumbar region consists the the to decrease colon, the left kidney, and part of the spleen.


The umbilical an ar contains the umbilicus (navel), and many components of the little intestine, such as part of the duodenum, the jejunum, and also the illeum. It additionally contains the transverse colon (the section between the ascending and also descending colons) and the bottom parts of both the left and right kidney.

Right Iliac

The ideal iliac region contains the appendix, cecum, and also the right iliac fossa. The is additionally commonly described as the appropriate inguinal region. Ache in this area is generally linked with appendicitis.

Left Iliac

The left illiac region contains component of the diminish colon, the sigmoid colon, and the right illiac fossa. That is likewise commonly called the left inguinal region.

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