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Definition of Anatomic orientation terms

Anatomic orientation terms: In anatomy, certain terms are used to denote orientation. For example, a structure may be horizontal, as opposed to vertical.

Some of the terms of anatomic orientation are as follows:

  • Anterior: The front, as opposed to the posterior.
  • Anteroposterior: From front to back, as opposed to posteroanterior.
  • Caudad: Toward the feet (or tail in embryology), as opposed to cranial.
  • Caudal: Pertaining to, situated in, or toward the tail or the hind part. Or below another structure.
  • Cranial: Toward the head, as opposed to caudad.
  • Deep: Away from the exterior surface or further into the body, as opposed to superficial.
  • Distal: Further from the beginning, as opposed to proximal.
  • Dorsal: The back, as opposed to ventral.
  • Horizontal: Parallel to the floor, a plane passing through the standing body parallel to the floor.
  • Inferior: Below, as opposed to superior.
  • Inferolateral: Below and to one side. Both inferior and lateral.
  • Lateral: Toward the left or right side of the body, as opposed to medial.
  • Medial: In the middle or inside, as opposed to lateral.
  • Posterior: The back or behind, as opposed to the anterior.
  • Posteroanterior: From back to front, as opposed to anteroposterior.
  • Pronation: Rotation of the forearm and hand so that the palm is down (and the corresponding movement of the foot and leg with the sole down), as opposed to supination.
  • Prone: With the front or ventral surface downward (lying face down), as opposed to supine.
  • Proximal: Toward the beginning, as opposed to distal.
  • Sagittal: A vertical plane passing through the standing body from front to back. The mid-sagittal, or median plane, splits the body into left and right halves.
  • Superficial: On the surface or shallow, as opposed to deep.
  • Superior: Above, as opposed to inferior.
  • Supination: Rotation of the forearm and hand so that the palm is upward (and the corresponding movement of the foot and leg), as opposed to pronation.
  • Supine: With the back or dorsal surface downward (lying face up), as opposed to prone.
  • Transverse: A horizontal plane passing through the standing body parallel to the ground.
  • Ventral: Pertaining to the abdomen, as opposed to dorsal.
  • Vertical: Upright, as opposed to horizontal.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9210
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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