Anatomical Language

Anatomical Language
Anatomical Position
• Anatomical position – the
subject stands erect
facing the observer, with
the head level and the
eyes facing forward. The
feet are flat on the floor
and directed forward, and
the arms are at the sides
with the palms turned
Directional Terms
• Superior
Toward the head;
upper part of
• Inferior (caudal) –
Away from the head;
lower part of
Directional Terms
• Anterior (ventral) –
Nearer to or at the
front of the body
• Posterior (dorsal) –
Nearer to or at the
back of the body
Directional Terms
• Medial – Nearer
to the midline or
midsagittal plane
• Lateral – Farther
from the midline
or midsagittal
Directional Terms
• Proximal – Nearer to
the attachment of a
limb to the trunk;
nearer to the point of
• Distal – Farther from
the attachment of a
limb to the trunk;
farther from the point
of origin
Planes and Sections
Sagittal Plane – Vertical plane that divides the
body or organ into right and left sides.
 Midsagittal plane – equal right and left halves
 Parasagittal plane – unequal right and left halves
Frontal Plane (coronal) – divides the body or
an organ into anterior and posterior portions.
Transverse Plane – divides the body or organ
into superior and inferior portions.
Planes and Sections
Body Cavities
Spaces within the body
that contain, protect,
separate, and support
internal organs are
called Body Cavities.
The two principal
cavities are the dorsal
and ventral body
Dorsal Cavity
The dorsal body cavity is
located near the dorsal
surface of the body.
Cranial cavity: formed by
cranial bones and contains
brain and its coverings.
Vertebral cavity: formed by
vertebral column and contains
spinal cord and the beginnings
of spinal nerves.
Ventral Cavity
The ventral body cavity is
located on the ventral aspect
of the body and contains
organs collectively called
viscera. Contains two main
Thoracic (upper) –
contains lungs and heart
Abdominopelvic (lower) –
contains stomach, liver,
intestines, pancreas,
kidneys, reproductive
organs, etc.
Thoracic cavity
Thoracic – chest cavity;
separated from the abdominal
cavity by diaphragm
• Pleural (right and left) – each
contains small amount of fluid
and one lung
• Pericardial – fluid filled space the
surrounds heart
• Mediastinum – medial to the
lungs; extends from the sternum
to the vertebral column and from
the neck to the diaphragm;
contains heart, esophagus,
trachea, and several large blood
Abdominopelvic Cavity
The abdominopelvic cavity
is also divided into two
regions, although no
wall separates them:
• Abdominal cavity (upper):
contains the stomach,
spleen, gall bladder, liver,
small intestine, and most
of the large intestine
• Pelvic cavity (lower):
contains the urinary
bladder, portions of the
large intestine, and
internal reproductive
Abdominal Quadrants
The quadrant designation is used to locate the
site of pain, a mass, or some other
Directional Practice
• The wrist is ____________ to
the hand.
• The sternum is ___________
to the spine.
• The brain is _______________
to the spinal cord.
• The lungs are ______________
to the stomach.
• The thumb is _____________
to the fingers.
(remember anatomical position)
• The navel is ______________
to the sternum.
• The nose is ____________ to
the mouth.
• The heart is ____________
to the sternum.
• The arms are ______________
to the chest.
• The elbow is ___________ to
the wrist.
• The skin is ________________
to the skeleton.
• The lungs are _____________
to the rib cage.