Anatomic orientation terms: In anatomy, certain terms are used to denote orientation. For example, a structure may be horizontal, as opposed to vertical.
Some of the terms of anatomic orientation are as follows:
Anterior: The front, as opposed to the posterior.
Anteroposterior: From front to back, as opposed to posteroanterior.
Caudad: Toward the feet (or tail in embryology), as opposed to cranial.
Caudal: Pertaining to, situated in, or toward the tail or the hind part. Or below another structure.
Cranial: Toward the head, as opposed to caudad.
Deep: Away from the exterior surface or further into the body, as opposed to superficial.
Distal: Further from the beginning, as opposed to proximal.
Dorsal: The back, as opposed to ventral.
Horizontal: Parallel to the floor, a plane passing through the standing body parallel to the floor.
Inferior: Below, as opposed to superior.
Inferolateral: Below and to one side. Both inferior and lateral.
Lateral: Toward the left or right side of the body, as opposed to medial.
Medial: In the middle or inside, as opposed to lateral.
Posterior: The back or behind, as opposed to the anterior.
Posteroanterior: From back to front, as opposed to anteroposterior.
Pronation: Rotation of the forearm and hand so that the palm is down (and the corresponding movement of the foot and leg with the sole down), as opposed to supination.
Prone: With the front or ventral surface downward (lying face down), as opposed to supine.
Proximal: Toward the beginning, as opposed to distal.
Sagittal: A vertical plane passing through the standing body from front to back. The mid-sagittal, or median plane, splits the body into left and right halves.
Superficial: On the surface or shallow, as opposed to deep.
Superior: Above, as opposed to inferior.
Supination: Rotation of the forearm and hand so that the palm is upward (and the corresponding movement of the foot and leg), as opposed to pronation.
Supine: With the back or dorsal surface downward (lying face up), as opposed to prone.
Transverse: A horizontal plane passing through the standing body parallel to the ground.
Ventral: Pertaining to the abdomen, as opposed to dorsal.
Vertical: Upright, as opposed to horizontal.
Last update Aug. 2008