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


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



anterior (ventral)

toward the front (belly) of the body

posterior (dorsal)

toward the back of the body


toward the midline of the body


toward the side of the body


nearer to the point of attachment or to a given

reference point


farther from the point of attachment or from a

given reference point





cephalad (cranial)

toward the head


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).

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Mole Removal

Mole Removal

Moles, warts, and other unsightly irregularities of the skin can be bothersome and even embarrassing. They can be removed naturally... Removing Warts and Moles Naturally! If you have moles, warts, and other skin irregularities that you cannot cover up affecting the way you look, you can have them removed. Doctors can be extremely expensive. Learn the natural ways you can remove these irregularities in the comfort of your own home.

Get My Free Ebook


  • Niklas
    What directional plane cut is the arm?
    8 years ago
    What is coronal plane?
    7 years ago
    What directional term is farther from the midline?
    7 years ago
    What are directional terms in medical terminology?
    7 years ago
  • Sisko
    What is the sagittal plane cut of the body?
    3 years ago
  • goytiom
    How do doctors use directional terms?
    1 year ago
  • ted
    Which directional term means below or lower; toward the tail?
    1 year ago
  • mandy
    What is the directional team for medical?
    1 year ago
  • angelo
    What is the medical directional term for below?
    9 months ago
  • hagos
    Which directional term means closer to midline?
    8 months ago
    What are medical directional terms good for?
    7 months ago
  • klaus
    Is medial proximal and actual directional term in medicine?
    5 months ago
  • lalli
    When might a surgeon use directional terms?
    4 months ago
  • Michelle Beike
    What does the medical directional term inferior mean?
    3 months ago
  • banazir puddifoot
    What does the medical directional term transverse mean?
    3 months ago

Post a comment