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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Demonstrate the anatomical position
  • Describe the human body using directional and regional terms
  • Identify three planes most commonly used in the study of anatomy
  • Distinguish between the posterior (dorsal) and the anterior (ventral) body cavities, identifying their subdivisions and representative organs found in each
  • Describe serous membrane and explain its function

Anatomists and health care providers use terminology that can be bewildering to the uninitiated. However, the purpose of this language is not to confuse, but rather to increase precision and reduce medical errors. For example, is a scar “above the wrist” located on the forearm two or three inches away from the hand? Or is it at the base of the hand? Is it on the palm-side or back-side? By using precise anatomical terminology, we eliminate ambiguity. Anatomical terms derive from ancient Greek and Latin words. Because these languages are no longer used in everyday conversation, the meaning of their words does not change.

Anatomical terms are made up of roots, prefixes, and suffixes. The root of a term often refers to an organ, tissue, or condition, whereas the prefix or suffix often describes the root. For example, in the disorder hypertension, the prefix “hyper-” means “high” or “over,” and the root word “tension” refers to pressure, so the word “hypertension” refers to abnormally high blood pressure.

Anatomical position

To further increase precision, anatomists standardize the way in which they view the body. Just as maps are normally oriented with north at the top, the standard body “map,” or anatomical position    , is that of the body standing upright, with the feet at shoulder width and parallel, toes forward. The upper limbs are held out to each side, and the palms of the hands face forward as illustrated in [link] . Using this standard position reduces confusion. It does not matter how the body being described is oriented, the terms are used as if it is in anatomical position. For example, a scar in the “anterior (front) carpal (wrist) region” would be present on the palm side of the wrist. The term “anterior” would be used even if the hand were palm down on a table.

Regions of the human body

This illustration shows an anterior and posterior view of the human body. The cranial region encompasses the upper part of the head while the facial region encompasses the lower half of the head beginning below the ears. The eyes are referred to as the ocular region. The cheeks are referred to as the buccal region. The ears are referred to as the auricle or otic region. The nose is referred to as the nasal region. The chin is referred to as the mental region. The neck is referred to as the cervical region. The trunk of the body contains, from superior to inferior, the thoracic region encompassing the chest, the mammary region encompassing each breast, the abdominal region encompassing the stomach area, the coxal region encompassing the belt line, and the pubic region encompassing the area above the genitals. The umbilicus, or naval, is located at the center of the abdomen. The pelvis and legs contain, from superior to inferior, the inguinal or groin region between the legs and the genitals, the pubic region surrounding the genitals, the femoral region encompassing the thighs, the patellar region encompassing the knee, the crural region encompassing the lower leg, the tarsal region encompassing the ankle, the pedal region encompassing the foot and the digital/phalangeal region encompassing the toes. The great toe is referred to as the hallux. The regions of the upper limbs, from superior to inferior, are the axillary region encompassing the armpit, the brachial region encompassing the upper arm, the antecubital region encompassing the front of the elbow, the antebrachial region encompassing the forearm, the carpal region encompassing the wrist, the palmar region encompassing the palm, and the digital/phalangeal region encompassing the fingers. The thumb is referred to as the pollux. The posterior view contains, from superior to inferior, the cervical region encompassing the neck, the dorsal region encompassing the upper back and the lumbar region encompassing the lower back. The regions of the back of the arms, from superior to inferior, include the cervical region encompassing the neck, acromial region encompassing the shoulder, the brachial region encompassing the upper arm, the olecranal region encompassing the back of the elbow, the antebrachial region encompasses the back of the arm, and the manual region encompassing the palm of the hand. The posterior regions of the legs, from superior to inferior, include the gluteal region encompassing the buttocks, the femoral region encompassing the thigh, the popliteus region encompassing the back of the knee, the sural region encompassing the back of the lower leg, and the plantar region encompassing the sole of the foot. Some regions are combined into larger regions. These include the trunk, which is a combination of the thoracic, mammary, abdominal, naval, and coxal regions. The cephalic region is a combination of all of the head regions. The upper limb region is a combination of all of the arm regions. The lower limb region is a combination of all of the leg regions.
The human body is shown in anatomical position in an (a) anterior view and a (b) posterior view. The regions of the body are labeled in boldface.

A body that is lying down is described as either prone or supine. Prone describes a face-down orientation, and supine    describes a face up orientation. These terms are sometimes used in describing the position of the body during specific physical examinations or surgical procedures.

Regional terms

The human body’s numerous regions have specific terms to help increase precision (see [link] ). Notice that the term “brachium” or “arm” is reserved for the “upper arm” and “antebrachium” or “forearm” is used rather than “lower arm.” Similarly, “femur” or “thigh” is correct, and “leg” or “crus” is reserved for the portion of the lower limb between the knee and the ankle. You will be able to describe the body’s regions using the terms from the figure.

Questions & Answers

what then is Pathological anatomy
acquosuah Reply
anatomy study about normal human organ... pathological anatomy study of diseased organ
Aswin
thanks
acquosuah
wow
Morshed
that's are good
Morshed
why oral glucose make insulin response in 1 phase but IV glucose make insulin response in 2 phase?
qwe Reply
what is anatomical position?
Kakande Reply
it's de description of any region or part of the body in specific strance
Andy
messa I didn't understand this too
Shammy Reply
and would love to know as well
Shammy
what are the various types of white blood cells
Andy Reply
what is cpr in first aid
Andy
various whiteblood cells includes Granulocytes (neutrophils,basophils ana eosinophils) and Agranulocytes (monocytes and lymphocytes)
Waziri
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (cpr) is an emergency procedure. Uses chest compressions with artificial ventilation in an effort to preserve brain function until further measures are taken to restore blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest.
Jeremiah
wow thanks alot
Andy
what is a positive and negative feedback and give examples of negative and positive feedback
esther
how many cell do we have in our body
Sawmtei
respiration is not just taking in of oxygen and bringing out Co2. that is called INHALATION AND EXHALATION. BUT RESPIRATION IS THE BREAKDOWN OF LARGE MOLECULES OF GLUCOSE OR OTHER SUBSTRATES IN THE PRESENCE OF OXYGEN AND SUBSEQUENT REMOVAL OF WASTE PRODUCT
Osuji Reply
why study anatomy?
esther Reply
to know the detailed functioning of the internay body organs
Jam
we study anatomy to know about the structure of the organs which in turn help to study physiology which is the knowledge related to function of the vital organ,and when we know the normal functionality we can understand the abnormalities in that organ,and the study of disease is called pathology
Lubabah
why is it so hard to know the spelling and words
Sawmtei
they were made so that only the best and thr brightest would understand.
Senen
thank you
esther
to know the internal structure of the human body and how it function
Jaafar
whats antonmy
Jaan Reply
the study of structure and function of internal body parts
Jam
is a branch of biology which describes the structures of the body and relationship from one part to another
esther
I believe it is the scientific study of body structures that are both macro and micro.
acquosuah
wat the question is tis ! without knowing tis simple thing.. y didn't install tis app ..
Aswin
what is anatomy and physiology
mwitwa Reply
Anatomy is the study of structures of the body
Zunehri
Physiology the study functions of the body
Zunehri
anatomy is study of structure of body nd physiology is study of function of body.
PRIYANKA
anatomy is the study of internal body structures and physiology is the functioning of these structures in the body
Jam
what is lungs
Shipon Reply
it an organ found in our thoracic cavity
Richard
lungs are spongy organs where our respiration takesplace
Maryama
Lungs is a spongy organs located in the chest , is an a primary organs of respiration in human body and other Animals
Zunehri
lungs thorex me present hote hai ye organ hai and gas exchange (o2,co2 exchange)inka inka function hai.
PRIYANKA
lungs ka function hai
OM
pls am a student I don't know
Mavis
main function is respiration
faheem
respiration is the taking ing of oxygen by the body tissues and the removal of carbondioxide from the body tissues
Jam
what is heart beat,?
Naqeeb Reply
heart beat is the process briting
Mavis
what functions of heart
Muthu Reply
To circulate the blood
Arshad
it pump blood to the lungs
Laura
very twiest
Shipon
what should be the nature of cell
Kashish Reply
Cells die and reproduce
Nejat
knuckle of the middle finger
James Reply
because of the gases (nitrogen, oxygen)
Nejat
what is ketone bodies
Jaan
why the heart is protected with that sac
Joshua Reply
To prevent collision with the lungs, lubricates the heart, protects the heart from infection in the event a peripheral organ is effected, and stabilizes the heart within the mediastinum.
Jeremiah

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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