Why do we use anatomical terms?
We can precisely describe the location of the features on the human body. Also called as Directional terms. They are used to describe the location of the external structures. To use the anatomical terms, the human body should be in anatomical position.
Example- There is a pimple on somebody’s stomach.
But we can describe exactly where the pimple is. The location of the pimple can vary. So the statement is vague or non-specific. It is possible to precisely identify the location by using the anatomical terminologies.
Example- The pimple is 2cm superior to Navel.
Now the location becomes obvious to everybody. To use the anatomical terms, the human body should be in anatomical position.
Example-Thumb is lateral to little finger
Example-point A is medial to point B
Left and Right
We can use these terms to describe right and left sides of person in anatomical position. It is not described as if you are an observer. It means the left side of the person in anatomical position.
Example-Point A is left to the umbilicus.
Anterior and Posterior
Anterior means front of the body while posterior means back of the body. Can also use ventral for anterior and dorsal for posterior.
Example-Navel is on anterior (ventral) surface of body.
Example-Heel is posterior (dorsal) to the toes.
Superior and Inferior
Superior means above or towards head and inferior means below or towards feet.
Example-Point A is superior to point B and point C is inferior to point B.
Proximal and Distal.
These terms are only used to describe the location of 2 points on the same limb. (Arm or leg.)
- Proximal - Closer to where the arm or leg inserts into body.
- Distal - Further away to where the arm or leg inserts into body
Example-knee is proximal to ankle.
Example-Wrist is distal to elbow.
Below we can’t use the anatomical terms proximal or distal. The 2 points should be on the same limb. But here Point A is not on the lover limb. Here point A is superior to point B.
Medial and Lateral
Midline is an imaginary line which cuts the body in half vertically.