Directional Terms

In describing the location or direction of a given point in the body, it is always assumed that the subject is in the anatomical position, that is, upright, with face front, arms at the sides with palms forward, and feet parallel, as shown in the small diagram in Figure 5-1. In this stance, the terms illustrated in Figure 5-1 and listed in Display 5-1 are used to designate relative position. Figure 5-2 illustrates planes of section, that is, direc-

Superior (cephalad)

Medical Directional Terms

(caudal)

FIGURE 5-1. Directional terms. (Reprinted with permission from Cohen BJ, Wood DL. Memmler's The Human Body in Health and Disease. 9th Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.)

DISPLAY 5-1 Anatomical Directions

TERM

DEFINITION

anterior (ventral)

toward the front (belly) of the body

posterior (dorsal)

toward the back of the body

medial

toward the midline of the body

lateral

toward the side of the body

proximal

nearer to the point of attachment or to a given

reference point

distal

farther from the point of attachment or from a

given reference point

superior

above

inferior

below

cephalad (cranial)

toward the head

caudal

toward the lower end of the spine (Latin cauda

means "tail")

superficial (external)

close to the surface of the body

deep (internal)

close to the center of the body

Frontal Sagittal Transverse

(coronal) plane (horizontal)

Frontal Coronal Plane

FIGURE 5-2. Planes of division Body in Health and Disease. 9th

Frontal Sagittal Transverse

(coronal) plane (horizontal)

Transverse Plane Cut

FIGURE 5-2. Planes of division Body in Health and Disease. 9th

. (Reprinted with permission from Cohen BJ, Wood DL. Memmler's The Human Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.)

tions in which the body can be cut. A frontal plane, also called a coronal plane, is made at right angles to the midline and divides the body into anterior and posterior parts. A sagittal (SAJ-i-tal) plane passes from front to back and divides the body into right and left portions. If the plane passes through the midline, it is a mid-sagittal or medial plane. A transverse plane passes horizontally, dividing the body into superior and inferior parts.

Internal organs are located within dorsal and ventral cavities (Fig. 5-3). The dorsal cavity contains the brain in the cranial cavity and the spinal cord in the spinal cavity (canal). The uppermost ventral space, the thoracic cavity, is separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm. There is no anatomical separation between the abdominal cavity and the pelvic cavity, which together make up the abdominopelvic cavity. The large membrane that lines the abdominopelvic cavity and covers the organs within it is the peritoneum (per-i-to-NE-um).

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Responses

  • Niklas
    What directional plane cut is the arm?
    7 years ago
  • JOSEFIINA SAARI
    What is coronal plane?
    7 years ago
  • CHRISTINE
    What directional term is farther from the midline?
    7 years ago
  • KRISTIN
    What are directional terms in medical terminology?
    6 years ago
  • Sisko
    What is the sagittal plane cut of the body?
    2 years ago
  • goytiom
    How do doctors use directional terms?
    6 months ago
  • ted
    Which directional term means below or lower; toward the tail?
    5 months ago
  • mandy
    What is the directional team for medical?
    4 months ago

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