In anatomy there are very specific terms that are used to describe body structures and their positioning and orientation. These terms are unique to anatomy and are used to describe the anatomical location in a more precise way and in a way that is common amongst all those working in the field of anatomy. These planes are used to describe the divisions of the individual organs, separate limbs as well as the divisions of the human body as a whole.
A plane is an imaginary line and is a flat surface given to which the body can be divided (or sectioned) following a specific direction. The standard planes used to divide the vertebrate body are defined below.
A sagittal plane (or lateral) (or median) (or mid-sagittal) plane divides the body into left and right halves. This is a vertical plane starting from the top of the skull and going straight down to the feet passing through structures such as the naval and spine. It’s called the sagittal plane because it starts through the line running along the top of the skull called the sagittal suture, which marks the fusion of the left and right halves of the skull.
A coronal plane (or frontal) plane is any vertical plane that divides the body into left and right parts and therefore divides the body into front and back parts. This division of the front and back parts is termed anterior and posterior.
A transverse plane (or cross section) (or axial) (or horizontal) plane passes perpendicular to the long axis of the body and/or of a separate limb. This plane is parallel to the ground and divides the body into top and bottom parts. This division of the top and bottom part of the body is called superior and inferior portions.
Anatomical terms for the Body
Anterior means towards or the front of the body.
Posterior means behind or the back of the body.
Inferior means towards the lower part of the structure.
Superior means towards the head or upper part of the structure.
Lateral means away from the midline (middle) of the body.
Medial means towards or at the midline of the body.
Anatomical terms for Limbs
Proximal means near the trunk or closer to the origin of a point of reference.
Distal means further from the origin or point of reference.
Pre-axial; situated or occurring in front of the axis of the body, which means the outer border in the upper limb and inner border in the lower limb.
Post-axial border means the outer border in upper limb and inner border in the lower limb.
Flexor surface means the anterior surface of the upper limb and posterior surface of the lower limb.
Extensor surface means the posterior surface of the upper limb and anterior surface of the lower limb.
On the MSIC website, we have been smart in creating a search function tool that allows customers to search for an illustration at a particular anatomical plane, so that a precise anatomical illustration can be searched for. Most of our customers are busy people looking on the web through thousands of potential images, which is why we have made searching for our high-quality images as quick and as easy as possible.