Directional Terms and Anatomic Planes, Regions, and Quadrants

Learning Objectives

When completing this chapter, the learner will be able to do the following:

  • Identify anatomic position and its use in medical terminology
  • Define, pronounce, and spell directional terms
  • Define, pronounce, and spell anatomic planes
  • Define, pronounce, and spell terms used to describe abdominal regions
  • Interpret the meaning of abdominal quadrant abbreviations



Anatomists and health care providers use terminology for the purpose of precision and to reduce medical errors. For example, is a scar “above the wrist” located on the forearm two or three inches away from the hand? Or is it at the base of the hand? Is it on the palm-side or back-side? By using precise anatomical terminology, we eliminate ambiguity. Anatomical terms derive from ancient Greek and Latin words. To further increase precision, anatomists standardize the way in which they view the body.


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Medical Terminology: An Interactive Approach Copyright © 2022 by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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