Definition

Anatomical Positions

Three major pairs of terms are used to describe the location of structures relative to the body as a whole or to other structures

 a. Anterior (or ventral) and posterior (or dorsal) describe the position of structures relative to the "front" and "back" of the body.

For example:

 - The nose is an anterior (ventral) structure whereas the vertebral column is a posterior (dorsal) structure. Also, the nose is anterior to the ears and the vertebral column is posterior to the sternum.

b. Medial and lateral describe the position of structures relative to the median sagittal plane and the sides of the body.

For example:

 - The thumb is lateral to the little finger. The nose is in the median sagittal plane and is medial to the eyes, which are in turn medial to the ears.

c. Superior and inferior describe structures in reference to the vertical axis of the body.

For example:

 - The head is superior to the shoulders and the knee joint is inferior to the hip joint.

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