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The anatomical planes

The anatomical position is a schematic convention for describing the relative morphology of the human body. All terms in the study of anatomy refer to when the body is in this position.
The person is oriented

  • in an erect standing position
  • eyes and head facing forward
  • feet forward and perpendicular to the body
  • arms close to the sides and palms of the hands facing forward with fingers extended.

It should be noted that this is not the normal position that arms rest in.

Median and sagittal plane[]

The body in anatomical position may be divided conceptually by planes. The median plane passes from the top to the bottom of the body and separates the left and the right sides of the body in equal halves.
Positions toward the median plane are called medial, and positions away from the median plane are called lateral. Hence ipsilateral refers to things on the same side, contralateral to something on the opposite side and bilateral to both sides.
A sagittal plane is any plane parallel to the median and hence the median plane is also called the midsagittal plane. A sagittal slice or section that is not on the median plane is also referred to as a parasagittal section.

Coronal plane[]

The frontal or coronal plane essentially separates the body into the forward half and the back half. This plane is perpendicular to the median and also passes from the top to the bottom along the long axis of the body. The term posterior refers to objects on the back half of the body, behind the coronal plane and the term anterior refers to objects in front of this plane.

Transverse plane[]

The horizontal or transverse plane is perpendicular to both of these planes and is the plane which divides the body into an upper and a lower half. Positions above the transverse plane are called superior, and positions below the transverse plane are called inferior. In comparative anatomy, superior may be called the rostral (beak) or cranial (head) end. Inferior may be referred to as the caudal or (tail) ends.

Planes in between these three are known as oblique planes.

Special cases[]

In the anatomical position, the penis is considered to be erect and pointing upwards, i.e. the dorsal side of the penis is what one would normally call its top side.

The tongue has a dorsal side which is facing upwards (the side that tastes and licks).

The perineum is a region of exception for obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs). OB/GYNs regard the perineal body in the perinuem to be an anatomical center and an important landmark. Several regions are discussed in spacial relation to the perineal body, deviating from the general terminology described above.

Note that the reclining body may be viewed correctly in terms of the anatomical position. Standing behind and at the head of a body, you will observe that the body's right arm with respect to your right arm is in the anatomically correct position. Likewise, the same with the body's left arm. This continues down the scope of the viewed body. Standing at the feet position when viewing the body, does not reveal the proper anatomical correct position.

Terms describing movement[]

Main article: Anatomical terms of motion

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See also[]

es:Posición anatómica no:Anatomiske retningsbeskrivelser pt:Posição anatômica sk:Anatomické postavenie

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