The Anatomical Position

The anatomical position is an artificial posture of the human body (see figure 1-2). This position is used as a standard reference throughout the medical profession. We always speak of the parts of the body as if the body were in the anatomical position. This is true regardless of what position the body is actually in. The anatomical position is described as follows:

a. The body stands erect, with heels together.

b. Upper members are along the sides, with the palms of the hands facing forward.

c. The head faces forward. 1-9. PLANES OF THE BODY

See figures 1-3A through 1-3C for the imaginary planes used to describe the body.

a. Sagittal planes are vertical planes that pass through the body from front to back. The median or midsagittal plane is the vertical plane that divides the body into right and left halves.

b. Horizontal (transverse) planes are parallel to the floor. They are perpendicular to both the sagittal and frontal planes.

c. Frontal (coronal) planes are vertical planes which pass through the body from side to side. They are perpendicular to the sagittal plane.

MIDLINE

MIDLINE

Figure 1-2. Anatomical position and medial-lateral relationships.

X is lateral to Y and Z; Y is medial to X and lateral to Z In the example shown, the body is in the normal anatomical position.

Figure 1-2. Anatomical position and medial-lateral relationships.

Figure 1-3, A. The sagittal plane. B. The horizontal plane. C. The frontal plane. 1-10. DIRECTIONS

Figure 1-3, A. The sagittal plane. B. The horizontal plane. C. The frontal plane. 1-10. DIRECTIONS

a. Superior, Inferior. Superior means above. Inferior means below.

b. Anterior, Posterior.

(1) Anterior (or ventral) refers to the front of the body.

(2) Posterior (or dorsal) refers to the back of the body.

c. Medial, Lateral. Medial means toward or nearer the midline of the body. Lateral means away from the midline or toward the side of the body.

d. Superficial, Deep. Superficial means closer to the surface of the body. Deep means toward the center of the body or body part.

e. Proximal, Distal. Proximal and distal are terms applied specifically to the limbs. Proximal means nearer to the shoulder joint or the hip joint. Distal means further away from the shoulder joint or the hip joint. Sometimes proximal and distal are used to identify the "beginning" and "end" of the gut tract--that portion closer to the stomach being proximal while that further away being distal.

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