Language to Navigate the Body
Directional terms are positional terms that help in locating structures by giving precise descriptions of relations. They include the following terms:
- Superior and inferior (caudal): used when referring to parts of the body which are toward an end of the body. Superior means toward the head and inferior meaning toward the feet,
- Anterior and posterior: sometimes used in place of superior and inferior, respectively. These words are used more often with reference to animal anatomy and should not be used with human anatomy as they already have very specific meanings in human anatomy. Anterior refers to the side of the body facing up in the standard anatomical position. Posterior refers to the bottom side.
- Dorsal and ventral: sometimes used in place of anterior and posterior, respectively. These are mostly used with animal anatomy, but can be used in human anatomy as long as they are describing the side of an appendage.
- Lateral is used to describe anything which is closer to the outside (toward the arms, in the standard anatomical position) while medial is used to describe anything toward the center of the body. Superficial is used to describe structures that are closer to the exterior surface of the body.
- Deep: refers to structures closer to the center of the body region
- Proximal and Distal:are terms that describe one point relative to another. Proximal refers to a point closer to the reference point while distal refers to a point farther away.
Anatomical planes allow the body to be described in three dimensions using a positional, coordinate system.
- The transverse plane(also axial or horizontal): an X-Z plane parallel to the ground, which (in humans) separates the superior from the inferior.
- The coronal (also known as frontal) plane: A Y-X plane, perpendicular to the ground, which (in humans) separates the anterior from the posterior.
- 9. The sagittal (also known as lateral) plane: is an Y-Z plane, perpendicular to the ground, which separates left from right.