Anatomical terminology

Terms that are being used in Anatomy is Anatomical Terminology. They are made up of suffixes, prefixes and root words that are mainly derived from Ancient Greek or Latin. Without the knowledge of anatomical terms, a medical professional cannot be able to discuss the location, position of organs or their abnormality, functions of joints and the actions of muscles.

Anatomical position

To use the Anatomical Terms, the body is supposed to be in the erect posture, with the arms hanging by the sides and the palms of the hands directed forward, and thumbs pointing away from the body, and the legs are parallel with the toe facing forward. This is called as anatomical position.

Anatomical planes

For descriptive purpose when the body in the anatomical position, commonly three hypothetical planes are used.

  • Sagittal Plane or Lateral Plane
  • Coronal Plane or Frontal Plane
  • Transverse Plane or Axial Plane

Sagittal Plane or Lateral Plane

Sagittal plane is a plane parallel to the sagittal suture of the skull. Median plane is a mid-sagittal plane that is used to describe the sagittal plane as it bisects the body vertically through the midline marked by the navel. It divides the body into Left and Right. If something is closer to the midline or median plane – it is Medial. Lateral describes something away from the midline.

Coronal Plane or Frontal Plane

It separates the anterior from the posterior.

Terms of Relation

  • Superior and inferior
  • Anterior and Posterior
  • Medial and Lateral
  • Proximal and Distal: Proximal means nearest to a point, whereas Distal is away from that point.
  • Central and Peripheral
  • Superficial (External) and Deep (Internal) : Superficial is towards the surface of the body, Deep is away from the surface of the body
  • Dorsal and Ventral: used in Embryology. Dorsal means back, Ventral means Front
  • Cranial and Caudal

Terms of Movements

  • Flexion and Extension
  • Adduction and Abduction
  • Circumduction
  • Medial rotation and Lateral rotation
  • Supination and Pronation

Anatomy Prefixes & Suffixes