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Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver
The universal anatomical terms used describe the position of patients and body parts are in reference to one standard position known as the anatomical position. These universal directional terms denote the following:
1.the terms anterior and posterior refer to a body part or organ being in front of or behind another respectively.
2. the terms ventral and dorsal refers to something being towards the front of the body or towards the back of the body
3. the term distal is used to denote that a body part is further away from the point of origin or from the trunk of the body
4. in contrast, the term proximal indicates that the body part is closer to the point of origin or to the trunk
5. terms frontal and occipital describe the position in reference to the brain. That is, frontal means towards the front of the brain, while occipital means towards the back of it.
6. the term median refers to an imaginary line that runs vertically through the center of the body, dividing the body into two equal parts.
7. the terms medial and lateral mean towards the median and towards the side of the body respectively.
8. Dexter comes from the Latin "dextra" meaning right and is used in reference to something situated on the right side.
9. Sinister is used to refer to something located on the left side and comes from the Latin "sinistra" meaning left.
10. the terms inferior and superior mean towards the feet and toward the top of the head respectively
11. the term internal is sometimes used interchangeably with the word deep and means away from the surface of the body, whereas external or superficial means towards the surface.
Imaginary planes that section the body in its anatomical position are known as body planes. These are:
1. the coronal plane, which divides the body into front and back parts
2. the sagittal plane, which divides the body into left and right parts
3. the transverse plane, which is a horizontal plane dividing the body into inferior and superior parts.
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