Human Anatomy and its Terms for Describing the position of the body.

Human Anatomy :

Human anatomy is the science which deals with the structure of the human body. The term, ‘ANATOMY’, is derived from a Greek word, “anatome”, meaning cutting up. The term ‘dissection’ is a Latin equivalent of the Greek anatome. However, the two words, anatomy and dissection, are not synonymous. Dissection is a mere technique, whereas anatomy is a wide field of study.

Gross (or macroscopic) anatomy: The study of anatomical features visible to the naked eye, such as internal organs and external features.

Surface Anatomy: The study of anatomical landmarks that can be identified by observing the surface of the body. Sometimes called superficial anatomy.

Microscopic anatomy: The study of minute anatomical structures on a microscopic scale, including cells (cytology) and tissues (histology).

Dissection: The process of disassembling an organism to determine its internal structure and understand the functions and relationships of its components.

Human anatomy and its terms

Basic terminology of human anatomy

Terms in Anatomy

Term used for Describing the position of the body

A. Anatomical Position – In this position, the body is erect, the eyes look straight to the front, the upper limbs hang by the side of the trunk with the palms directed forward and the lower limbs are parallel with the toes pointing forwards. All structure are described presuming the body in anatomical position, althrough during study the body may be placed in any position.

B. Supine Position – Lying down (recumbent) position with face directed upwards.

C. Prone Position – Lying down ( recumbent ) position with the face directed downwards.

D. Lithotomy Position – Lying supine with the buttocks at the edge of the table ,the hips and knees fully flexed and the feet strapped in position.

Anatomical Planes

A. Median or Midsagittal Plane – Divides the body into right and left halves.

B. Sagittal Plane – Any plane parallel to the to the median plane.

C. Coronal or frontal plane – A vertical plane at right angles to the median plane.

D. Transverse Plane – A plane at right angle to a vertical plane or at right angles to the longitudinal axis of any part.

E. Horizontal Plane – A plane parallel to the horizon (ground).

F. Oblique Plane – Any plane other than the aforementioned planes.

3. Term of Relation commonly used in gross antomy

A. Anterior – Towards the front.
B. Posterior – Towards the back.
C. Superior – Towards the head.
D. Inferior – Towards the feet.
E. Medial – Towards the Median plane.
F. Lateral – Away from the median plane.


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    Term of Relation commonly used in Embryology and Comparative anatomy

    *but sometimes in gross anatomy

    A. Ventral – Towards the belly (like anterior)
    B. Dorsal – Towards the back (like posterior)
    C. Cranial or Rostral – Towards the head (like superior)
    D. Caudal – Toward the tail.

    Special terms for limbs

    A. Proximal – Nearer to the trunk
    B. Distal – Away from the trunk
    C. Radial – The outer border in the upper limb.
    D. Ulnar – The inner border in the upper limb.
    E. Tibial – The inner border in the lower limb.
    F. Fibular – The outer border in the lower limb.
    G. Preaxial border – The outer border in the upper limb, and the inner border in the lower limb.
    H. Postaxial border – The inner border in the upper limb, and the outer border in the lower limb.
    I. Flexor Surface – The anterior surface In the upper limb, and the posterior surface in the lower limb.
    J. Extensor Surface – The posterior surface in the upper limb and the anterior surface in the lower limb.
    K. Palmar or Voter – Pertaining to (towards) the palm of the hand.
    I. Plantar – pertaining to (towards) the Sole of the foot.

    Certain other terms

    A. Terms used for hollow organs :

    • i ) interior or inner
    • ii ) Exterior or outer
    • iii) imagination or inward protrusion
    • iv) Evagination or outward protrusion.

    B. Terms Used for solid organs

    • a) superficial, towards the surface.
    • b ) Deep, inner to the surface.

    C. Terms used to indicate the side

    • a) Ipsilateral – of the same side.
    • b) Contralateral – of the opposites side.

    Terms used for Describing Muscles

    A. Origin – The end of muscle which is relatively fixed during its contraction .

    B. insertion – The end of a muscles which moves during its contraction.
    The two terms, origin and insertion are Sometimes interchangeable, when the origin moves and the insertion is fixed.

    C. Belly – the fleshy and contractile part of a muscle.

    D. Tendon – The fibrous, non contractile and cord like part of a muscle.

    E. Aponeurosis – The flattened tendon.

    F. Raphe – A fibrous band made up of interdigitating fibres of the tendons or aponeuroses. Unlike a Ligament, it is stretchable, Ligaments are fibrous, inelastic band which connect two segments of a joint.

    Terms used for describing movement

    A. Flexion – Approximation of the flexor Surface whereby the angle of the joint is reduced.

    B. Extension – Approximation of the extensor surfaces whereby the angle of the joints is increased . It is opposites to Flexion .

    C. Adduction – Movement towards the Central axis.

    D. Abduction – Movement away from the central axis. It is opposite to adduction.

    E. Medial rotation – Inward rotation

    F. Lateral rotation – Outward rotation

    G. Circumduction – various combinations Of the foregoing movement.

    H. Pronation – Rotation of the forearm so that the palm is turned Backwards.

    I. Supination – Rotation of the forearm so that the palm is turned Forwards.

    J. Prostration – Forwards protrusion.

    K. Retraction – Movement reverse of Protraction.

    Terms used for Describing vessels

    A. Arteries – Carry Oxygenated blood away from the heart, with the exception of the pulmonary and umbilical arteries which carry deoxygenated blood. Arteries resemble trees because they have branches (arterioles)

    B. Veins – Carry deoxygenated blood towards the heart, with the exception of the pulmonary and umbilical veins which carry oxygenated blood . Veins resemble rivers beacuse they have tributaries (venules).

    C. Capillaries – Are network of Microscopic vessels connecting arterioles to venules ..

    D. Anastomosis – it is a precapillary or Postcapillary communi-cation between the neighboring vessels.

    Terms Used for Decribing Bony Features

    A. Elevations :

    • i) Linear elevation may be a line, lip ridge or crest.
    • ii) Sharp elevation may be a spine, styloid process, cornu( horn ) or hamulus .
    • iii) Rounded or irregular elevation may be a tubercle, tuberosity, epicondyle,malleolus, or trochanter. A ramus is a broad arm or process projecting from the main part or body of the bone.

    B) Depressions :
    May be a pit, impression, fovea, fossa, groove (sulcus) or notch (incisura).

    C) Opening :

    May be a foramen, canal, hiatus, or aqueduct.

    D. Cavities :

    A large cavity within a bone is called Sinus, cell or antrum .

    E. Smooth Articular Areas : May be a facet , condyle, head capituLum or trochlea…


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      Human Anatomy and its Terms for Describing the position of the body

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