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Preparing for Anatomy - Directional Terms

If there is anything you could do to prepare for anatomy, it is to get a jump start on the language you will have to know. There are terms that sound supppper foreign, well that is because it is. The terms used in anatomy is a Latin derivative. It takes a hot minute to get used to these terms but once you do, things will feel a lot smoother!!!!

First off, what is the purpose of these directional terms?

Well it is to keep everyone on the same page about how to describe the location of a structure, tumor, or pain point. It's just like anatomical position, this is the reference point that everyone in the world can utilize and describe about their patient. Imagine being on the phone and you are describing something foreign about your patient to the other medical professional. By utilizing directional terminology, the professional you are consulting will know exactly where you are talking about without ever looking at it. Pretty cool huh??

So let's get to it!

Anterior - toward the "front"

Posterior - toward the "back"

Superior - toward the "head" or above

Inferior - toward the "caudal" or below

Medial - toward the midline of the body

Lateral - away from the midline of the body

Supination - palms up (facing superior or anterior) like your holding a "soup"

Pronation - palms down (facing inferior or posterior)

Proximal - closer to the "trunk" or origin of appendages

Distal - away from the "trunk" or origin of appendages

The key is to remember that these are when comparing two reference points. For example:

The buttocks is posterior to the belly button.

Notice the first point of reference/structure (sx) is what then has the directional term associated with, the second reference point/sx is what the first sx is being compared to.

Let's try again...

The nose is medial to the eyes where the eyes would be lateral to the nose.

The main focus is knowing which term is being tied with the directional term.

Additionally, anything can be medial or lateral, anterior or superior. Check this out...

The nose is medial to the eyes. That means the eyes are lateral in this case. But the eyes are medial to the ears. So that means that any one sx can be a new reference point. This is why it is critical that you always have a comparison sx. This sentence would not make sense...

The eyes are lateral. Okay... what are they lateral to?

Or the sternum is superior. But what is it superior to?

Do you see where I am going with this? Don't forget to do a structural comparison point

Want more anatomy content?

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>Also, I just started a dedicated Instagram page to anatomy @anatomywithdani where you'll find a fun reel on this topic and much more

Happy studying!


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