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Anatomical Terminology


For descriptive purposes, it has been agreed to consider the subject standing upright, face looking forward and arms straight by the side with the palms facing forwards. This is called the anatomical position.

Anatomical planes:
  • Median plane: vertical line that passes through the body longitudinally.
  • Sagittal plane: vertical planes passing through the body parallel to the median plane. E.g. such as a sagittal plane through the midpoint of the clavicle.
  • Coronal plane: vertical lines which passes at right angles to the median or sagittal planes and it divides the body into anterior and posterior parts.
  • Transverse plane: horizontal plane which passes through the body at a right angle to the median, sagittal or coronal plane. Divides the body into upper and lower parts.


Terms of positions
  • Medial: Nearer to the median plane of the body.
  • Lateral: Away from the median plane.
  • Superior: Toward the head end (upper) part of the body.
  • Inferior: Toward the lower part of the body.




  • Proximal: Close to the origin of the body part or the point of attachment of a limb to the body trunk.




  • Distal: Farther from the origin of a body part or the point of attachment of a limb to the body trunk




Superficial (External) : toward or at the surface or the center of an organ or a cavity.
Deep (Internal): away from the body surface or the center.
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