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Language of Anatomy. Anatomical Terms, Directional Terms, Regional Terms, Body Planes, and Body Cavities. Anatomical Position. Always assume body is in anatomical position to accurately describe body parts and position Body is erect Feet parallel, shoulder width apart

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Language of anatomy

Language of Anatomy

Anatomical Terms, Directional Terms, Regional Terms, Body Planes, and Body Cavities

Anatomical position
Anatomical Position

  • Always assume body is in anatomical position to accurately describe body parts and position

  • Body is erect

  • Feet parallel, shoulder width apart

  • Palms to the side facing forward

Directional terms
Directional Terms

  • Explains where one body structure is in relation to another

Superior cranial cephalad inferior caudal
Superior (Cranial, Cephalad) & Inferior (Caudal)



  • Toward the head or upper part of a structure of the body, above

  • Ex: The forehead is superior to the nose

  • Away from head end or toward lower part of body, below

  • Ex: The navel is inferior to the breastbone

Anterior ventral posterior dorsal
Anterior (Ventral) &Posterior (Dorsal)



  • Toward the front of the body

  • Ex: The breastbone is anterior to the spine

  • In four legged animals, ventral refers to the belly of an animal

  • Toward the backside, behind

  • Ex: The heart is posterior to the breastbone

Medial lateral
Medial &Lateral



  • Toward or at midline of body, inner side

  • Ex: Heart is medial to arm

  • Away from midline of body, outer side

  • Ex: Arms are lateral to the chest


  • Between a more medial and a more lateral structure

  • Ex: Armpit is intermediate between the breastbone and shoulder

Proximal distal
Proximal &Distal



  • Close to the origin of body part or point of attachment of a limb to the body of the trunk

  • Ex: Elbow is proximal to wrist

  • Farther from origin of body part or point of attachment of limb to body trunk

  • Ex: Knee is distal to thigh

Superficial deep
Superficial &Deep



  • Toward body surface

  • Ex: Skin is superficial to skeleton

  • Away from body surface, more internal

  • Ex: Lungs are deep to the ribcage


  • The wrist is blank to the hand


  • The breastbone is blank to the spine

    Anterior (Ventral)

  • The brain is blank to the spinal cord


  • The lungs are blank to the heart


  • The fingers are blank to the thumb


Anterior body landmarks
Anterior Body Landmarks

  • Abdominal- anterior body trunk inferior to ribs

  • Acromial-point of shoulder

  • Antecubital-anterior surface of elbow

  • Axillary-armpit

  • Brachial-arm

  • Buccal-cheek

  • Carpal-wrist

  • Cervical-neck

  • Coxal-hip

  • Crural-leg

  • Digital-fingers, toes

  • Femoral-thigh

  • Fibular-lateral part of leg

  • Inguinal-groin

  • Nasal-nose

  • Oral-mouth

  • Orbital-eye

  • Patellar- anterior knee

  • Pelvic-anterior pelvis

  • Pubic-genital region

  • Sternal-breastbone

  • Tarsal-ankle

  • Thoracic-chest

  • Umbilical-naval

Posterior body landmarks
Posterior Body Landmarks

  • Cephalic-head

  • Deltoid- curve of shoulder

  • Gluteal-buttock

  • Lumbar-area of back between ribs and hips

  • Occipital-posterior side of head

  • Popliteal-posterior knee area

  • Sacral-area between hips

  • Scapular-shoulder blade region

  • Sural-calf

  • Vertebral-area of spine

Body landmarks
Body Landmarks



Body planes and sections
Body Planes and Sections

  • Section-cut

    • Sagittal section- cut made lengthwise, dividing body into right and left parts.

      • If its exactly in the middle it’s called a midsaggitalsection

    • Frontal/ coronal section- cut made that divides body into anterior and posterior

    • Transverse/cross section-cut made along horizontal plane, divides body into superior and inferior parts

  • Plane-imaginary line that a section is made through

Body cavities
Body Cavities



  • Cranial Cavity

  • Spinal Cavity

  • Thoracic cavity- seperated from the rest by diaphragm

  • Abdominopelvic- can be further divided into abdominal cavity and pelvic cavity

    • Abdomial cavity can be divided into nine more regions:

      • 1. Umbilical region- center rmost

      • 2. epigastric region- superior to umbilical region

      • 3. Hypogastric region- inferior to umbilical region

      • 4. Right and Left Iliac/inguinal regions-lateral to hypogastric region

      • 5. Right and left lumbar regions- lateral to umbillical region

      • 6. Right and left hypochondriac region- lateral to epigastric region