Anatomical Directional Terms and planes of reference

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Directional terms describe the locations of structures in relation to other structures or locations in the body. These terms often have a counterpart with converse or opposite meaning. Below are examples of some commonly used anatomical directional terms.

Ventral

Toward the bottom, towards the belly

Anterior

In front of, front

Distal

Away from, farther from the origin

Dorsal

Near the upper surface, towards the back

Inferior

Below, under

Lateral

Toward the side, away from the midline

Rostral

towards the tip of the nose

Posterior

towards the back dorsal

Proximal

Near, closer to the origin

Superior

Above, over

Medial

Toward the midline, middle, away from the side

Caudal

Toward the back, toward the tail

cranial

towards the head end

deep/internal

towards the center

superficial

towards the surface

palmar

back of the forelimb distal to tarsus

plantar

back of hindlimbs distal to tarsus

median plane

divides the animal down the center into equal left and right halves

Sagittal planes

divide the body parallel to the median plane, A body can have more than one

dorsal plane

divides the body into two parts, one containing the belly and the other the back. sometimes referred to as the

transverse plane

divides the body into two sections, one containing the head and the other the tail

orad

refers to movement within the gastrointestinal system in the direction of the mouth

aborad

refers to movement within the gastrointestinal system in the direction away from the mouth

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