ANATOMY |1 Where Does It Hurt?The Directions, Cavities, and Regions of the Human Body Jennifer Kitchen HS120-01 Unit 1 Assignment Kaplan University April 23, 2011
ANATOMY |2 Anatomy is the study of an organism and the relationship of the organism’s many parts.The human body is a very complex organism and although it may seem like a very solidstructure it is actually made up of many different parts. Describing the aspects of the humanbody can be complicated and in order for health professionals to easily communicate with eachother specific terms are used when speaking of location in the body. To understand the“where” of an ailment in a patient these terms have been applied to describe the directions,the cavities, and the regions of the human body.Anatomical Position and the 10 Directions When health professionals talk about the human body they always speak of it asstanding erect with head and feet forward. The arms are straight and the palms of the handsface forward. This is called the anatomical position. There are ten terms that relate to thedirections of the relative positions of the body’s parts. These directions are in actuality five setsof opposites, for as there is an up there is a down.Superior means “toward the head, upper, orabove” and inferior means “toward the feet, lower, or below”(Health Pages, 2011;Miami DadeCollege, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). This means that the head is superior to the shouldersand the hips are superior to the feet. The knees are inferior to the waist and the elbows areinferior to the shoulders. The body also has a front and a back. Anterior means “in front of”and posterior means “in back of”(Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau &Patton, 2008). The nose is anterior on the head, while the buttocks anterior on the body. Ifthere are two sides there must be a middle. Medial means “toward the midline of the body”.Lateral means “toward the side of the body or away from the body’s midline”(Health Pages,
ANATOMY |32011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). The belly button is medial on thebody and the heart is medial to the ribs. The arms are lateral to the trunk of the body. Thehuman body even has a near and far. Proximal means “toward or nearest to the trunk of thebody or point of origin of a body part” and distal means “away from or farthest from the trunkor the point of origin of a body part”(Health Pages, 2011; Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau& Patton, 2008). Therefore the nose is proximal to the face while the feet would be distal tothe face. The feet would be proximal to the leg. Finally, the body has a surface and an inside.Superficial means “nearer to the surface” and deep means “farther away from thesurface”(Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). The skin isthe body’s most superficial organ while the heart is deep within the body. The directionalterms assist health professional in communicating with each other about the “where” of apatients ailments, whether it be a broken arm or a pinched nerve.The Cavities of the Body and the Organs They Contain The body may seem solid but it is in fact made of open spaces that are holding places forthe organs. Theses open spaces are known as cavities. There are two main body cavities thatare divided into six smaller cavities. These two body cavities are the dorsal body cavity and theventral body cavities(Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008).These two body cavities are specific in what they contain. The dorsal body cavity includes thecranial cavity and the spinal (vertebral) cavity. The cranial cavity holds the brain and the spinalcavity contains the spinal cord (Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau &Patton, 2008). While the dorsal body cavity is only divided into two other cavities, the ventral
ANATOMY |4body cavity has several cavities within. The upper part of the ventral body cavity includes thethoracic cavity which contains the mediastinum and the pleural cavity. The pleural cavitycontains the lungs. The mediastinum contains the trachea (wind pipe), heart, and bloodvessels(Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). The thoraciccavity is separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm, which is also the mostimportant muscle for breathing. The lower part of the ventral cavity includes the abdominalcavity and the pelvic cavity. The abdominal cavity contains the liver, gallbladder, stomach,spleen, pancreas, small intestine, and parts of the large intestine. The pelvic cavity contains thelower colon, the rectum, urinary bladder, and the reproductive organs (Health Pages,2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). This lower part of the ventralcavity is often combined and considered the abdominopelvic cavity. This is where many of thebody’s internal organs are held.The 9 Abdominopelvic Regions of the Body Since the abdominopelvic region covers the entire trunk area of the body and containsmany organs itis divided into nine regions for easier understanding of the “where” of ailments.By looking at the body as if there is a three by three grid over the abdominopelvic region healthprofessions can be more specific when speaking of an area (see figure 1). The upperabdominopelvic region lies above an imaginary line that is even with the ninth rib cartilages.This region includes theright and left hypochondriac regions and the epigastric region(HealthPages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). The heart lies in theepigastric region. The lower abdominopelvic region lies below an imaginary line that is even
ANATOMY |5with the top of the hip bones. This region includes the right and left iliac (inguinal) regions andthe hypogastric (pubic) region(Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau &Patton, 2008). The bladder would be in the hypogastric region. The middle abdominopelvicregion lies between the two imaginary lines at the ninth rib cartilage and the top of the hipbones. This region includes the right and left lumbar (lateral) regions and the umbilical (bellybutton) region(Health Pages, 2011;Miami Dade College, n.d.; Thibodeau & Patton, 2008). Theumbilical region is where the majority of our intestines lie but they also reach out to the rightand left lumbar and even fall below the line into the hypogastric and right and left iliac regions.Knowing what region a patient is experiencing pain or discomfort can help a health professionaldetermine what may be going on with what organ. By using these terms to describe the directions, the cavities, and the regions of thehuman body health professionals can communicate more easily the location of a patient’sailment. This comes in very handy when a doctor refers a patient to a specialist or even when apatient describes their symptoms to a nurse before seeing the doctor.
ANATOMY |6 Figure 1: The 9 Regions of the Abdominopelvic Cavity (Created using Microsoft Publisher, 2010; picture from Microsoft Clip-Art)
ANATOMY |7ReferencesHealth pages (2011). Anatomy terms. Retrieved from http://healthpages.org/anatomy- function/anatomy-terms/.Miami Dade College, (n.d.). The human body: anatomical regions, directions, and body cavities. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mdc.edu/main/search/search_results.asp?cx=0037373841183702675 26%3Ahchzsajmmww&cof=FORID%3A11&q=the+human+body+presentation&sitesearc h=www.mdc.edu&sa=Search#1650.Thibodeau, G. and Patton, K., (2008). Structure and function of the body. Missouri; Mosby Elsevier.