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Anatomical Terms of Location

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There are common anatomical terms that refer to the position of the body when it is in anatomical position (standing with feet together, arms at the side, palms facing forward, with head and eyes facing forward). It is important to keep this in mind to ensure consistency of description.[1]

Anatomical Positions

Anterior: In front of
Example: The quadriceps are anterior to the hamstrings.
Posterior: In back of
Example: The hamstrings are posterior to the quadriceps.

Dorsal: Pertaining to the back.
Example: The knuckles are located dorsally on the hand.
Ventral: Pertaining to the front.
Example: The palm is located ventrally on the hand.

Lateral: Away from the midline of the body.
Example: The arms are lateral to the torso.
Medial: Toward the midline of the body
Example: The torso is medial to the arms.

Sinister: On the left side.
Dexter: On the right side.

Proximal: Near to the point of origin or attachment.
Example: Of the knee and ankle, the knee is the more proximal to the pelvis.
Distal: Away from the point of origin or attachment.
Example: Of the knee and ankle, the ankle is the more distal to the pelvis.

Superior: Above
Example: The pectorals are superior to the abdominals.
Inferior: Below
Example: The abdominals are inferior to the pectorals.

Cranial:
Example:
Caudal:
Example:

Ipsilateral: On the same side.
Example: The right arm is ipsilateral to the right leg.
Contralateral: On the opposite side.
Example: The left arm is contralateral to the right leg.

Superficial: Close to the surface, or in relation to something.
Example: The skin is superficial to muscle.
Deep: Not close to the surface, or in relation to something.
Example: The muscle is deep compared to the skin.

See Also

References

  1. unknown (n.d.). Anatomical Terms of Location. ExtremeIntellect.com. Retrieved on 2008-05-20.

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