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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 organelles controls protein synthesis?
Katie Reply
Ribosome
AMEL
hmm...the ribosomes?
Fatukasi
ribosome
adam
Ribosome
Opara
Ribosome
Saifkhan
ribosome
DR
ribosome
ELIZABETH
are ribisomes made in the rRNA?
Lola
nop they are produced by cells of Nucleolus
adam
Is there anything about nerve and muscle physiology?
AMEL Reply
how many types of epithelial tissues do we have
Benedicta Reply
Epithelial tissues are grouped in two ways.. ●Based on the number of layers.(Simple and stratified ) ●Based of their shapes(Squamous,Cuboidal and columnar) Also we can have a combination of the two,say,simple Squamous
Prince
awww thanks dearie😊😊😊💖
Benedicta
describe the function and structure of blood
Belindah Reply
It has four main components: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Blood has many different functions, including: transporting oxygen and nutrients to the lungs and tissues.
Arlena
well answered arlena.. #thumbs up#
Fatukasi
have u some prepared MCQs on CNS and Special senses physiology?
dr
Anyone got the human heart labelled diagram
Sawmtei
you can download from Google... I don't think it's possible to share docs or files here
Fatukasi
ok thanks
Sawmtei
you're welcome..
Fatukasi
thanks
dr
Thank you
Drs
what's an easy way of knowing the different structures of tissues what they do and where their found
Lola
are you know function of the blood?
Drs
to carry nutrients to parts of the body
Lola
well Lola the easiest way is to attributes the tissues based on their funcs(especially those with similar funcs)..you can create your own mnemonics that will help you rmba em..and the a random reading.. it helps you retain em better
Fatukasi
and try random reading*
Fatukasi
ok thanks
Lola
funtction of WBCs
DR
bone tissue
Waqar
identy the vein and arteries of coronary circulation
abdifatah Reply
to be a nurse a doctor or just to understand the body
Drew Reply
what is the basic part of life
Drew
cell remains the basic unit of life...
Fatukasi
The coronary arteries branches off of what
Ada Reply
gh
Asad
rephrase your question
Fatukasi
Discuss Active Myosin contraction theory
Xavier Reply
What is dissected?
Jc Reply
It is a minute and detailed analysis.."dissection"rather..
Kabwe
what is the net charge on both atoms of hydrogen and helium?
Brianna Reply
hii
Shubham
hii
Maddy
Muche kuch bhi samaz me nhi aa rha he
Shubham
kya samaj nahii Aa raha hai
Maddy
What is homeostasis?
Xavier Reply
it is tha condition of equilibrium in body is internal invorment
Ravi
it is a dynamic condition
Ravi
it is the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements.
Kyekyelle
what is connective tissue
sourav Reply
it is tissue that connects, binds, supports and separates
Brenda
Just as it name it Connects and helps to attach parts
Xavier
tissue in a connects to tha bones
naime
who many days does the sperm stays before fertilizing
Ferlin Reply
72hours
Opara
you mean the durability of sperm In the oviduct?
Fatukasi
What is the meddle cranial fossa?
Margret Reply
What is the meddle cranial fossa.
Margret Reply

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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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