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Ch 5 / Body Structure - Anatomic Directions - Body Positions

Directional Terms and Body Positions

anterior (ventral)toward the front (belly) of the body
posterior (dorsal)toward the back of the body
medialtoward the midline of the body
lateraltoward the side of the body
proximalnearer to the point of attachment or to a given reference point
distalfarther from the point of attachment or from a given reference point
cranial (cephalic)toward the head
caudaltoward the lower end of the spine
superficial (external)close to surface of the body
deep (internal)close to the center of the body
frontal planealso called a coronal plane, is made at right angles to the midline and divides the body into anterior and posterior parts
sagittal planepasses from front to back and divides the body into right and left portions, if the plane passes throught the midline, it is a mid-sagittal or medial plane
transverse planepasses horizontally dividing the body into superior and inferior parts
anatomic positionstanding erect, facing forward, arms at sides, palms forward, legs parallel, and toes pointed forward
decubitus positionlying down, specifically according to the part of the body resting on a flat surface, as in left or right lateral decubitus, or dorsal or ventral decubitus
dorsal recumbant positionon back, with legs bent and separated, feet flat
Fowler positionon back, head of bed raised about 18 inches and knees elevated
knee-chest positionon knees, head and upper chest on table, arms crossed above head
left lateral recumbent positionon left side, right leg drawn up
lithotomy positionon back, legs flexed on abdomen, thighs apart
pronelying face down
Sims positonon left side, right leg drawn up high and forward, left arm along back, and chest forward resting on bed
supinelying face up
Trendelenburg positionon back with head lowered by tilting bed back at 45 degree angle

Jeani Keogh

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