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Chapter 3 - Directional Terms, Planes, Positions, Regions, and Quadrants Book: Exploring Medical Language 8th Edition (ISBN: 9780323073080)

What is the anatomic position?

In this position, the body is viewed as standing erect, arms at the side, palms of the hands facing forward, and feet placed side by side.

Combining form: anter/o
Example: anter/o/poster/ior


Combining form: caud/o
Example: caud/al

Tail (Downward)

Combining form: cephal/o
Example: cephal/ic

Head (Upward)

Combining form: dist/o
Example: dist/al

Away (From the point of attachment of a body part)

Combining form: dors/o


Combining form: infer/o
Example: infer/ior


Combining form: later/o
Example: later/al


Combining form: medi/o


Combining form: poster/o
Example: poster/o

Back, Behind

Combining form: proxim/o
Example: proxim/al

Near (The point of attachment of a body part)

Combining form: super/o
Example: super/ior


Combining form: ventr/o
Example: ventr/al

Belly (Front)

Suffix: -ior
Example: infer/ior

Pertaining to

Suffix: -ad
Example: cephal/ad


Prefix: uni-
Example: uni/lateral/al


Prefix: bi-
Example: bi/later/al


Body directional term: caudad (KAW-dad)

Toward the tail (Downward)

Body directional term: cephalad (SEF-a-lad)

Toward the head (Upward)

Body directional term: lateral (lat) (LAT-er-al)

Pertaining to a side

Body directional term: medial (med) (ME-de-al)

Pertaining to the middle

Body directional term: unilateral (u-ni-LAT-er-al)

Pertaining to one side (only)

Body directional term: bilateral (bi-LAT-er-al)

Pertaining to two sides

Body directional term: mediolateral (me-de-o-LAT-er-al)

Pertaning to the middle and to the side

Body directional term: distal (DIS-tal)

Pertaining to away (from the point of attachment of a body part)

Body directional term: dorsal (DOR-sal)

Pertaining to the back

Body directional term: proximal (PROK-si-mal)

Pertaining to near (to the point of attachment of a body part)

Body directional term: inferior (inf) (in-FER-e-or)

Pertaining to below

Body directional term: superior (su-PER-e-or)

Pertaining to above

Body directional term: caudal (KAW-dal)

Pertaining to the tail (similar to inferior in most instances related to human anatomy)

Body directional term: cephalic (se-FAL-ik)

Pertaining to the head

Body directional term: anterior (ant) (an-TER-e-or)

Pertaining to the front

Body directional term: posterior (pos-TER-e-or)

Pertaning to the back

Body directional term: ventral (VEN-tral)

Pertaining to the belly

Body directional term: anteroposterior (AP) (an-ter-o-pos-TER-e-or)

Pertaining to the front and to the back

Body directional term: posteroanterior (PA) (pos-ter-o-an-TER-e-or)

Pertaining to the back and to the front

Body position: prone position

The prone position involves lying face downward.

Body position: supine position

To be in a supine position means to lie horizontally on the back.

Body position: Fowler position

Semi-sitting position with slight elevation of the knees

Body position: lithotomy position

Lying on back with legs raised (legs are supported under the knees rather than by stirrups at the feet)

Body position: orthopnea position

Sitting erect in a chair or sitting upright in bed supported by pillows behind the head and chest
(Also called orthopneic position)

Body position: recumbent position

Lying down in any position

Body position: Sims position

Lying on left side with right knee drawn up and with left arm drawn behind, parallel to the back

Body position: Trendelenburg position

Lying on back with body tilted so that the head is lower than the feet

Anatomic plane: Frontal or coronal plane

Vertical field passing through the body from side to side, dividing the body ino anterior and posterior portions

Anatomic plane: Midsagittal plane

Vertical field running through the body from front to back at the midline, dividing the body equally into right and left halves

Anatomic plane: Parasagittal plane

Vertical field running through the body from front to back, dividing the body into unequal left and right sides

Anatomic plane: Sagittal plane

Vertical field running through the body from front to back, dividing the body into right and left sides (any plane parallel to the midsagittal plane)

Anatomic plane: Transverse plane

Horizontal field dividing the body into superior and inferior portions

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