Anatomical Planes of the Body

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Medical professionals often refer to sections of the body in terms of anatomical planes (flat surfaces). These planes are imaginary lines – vertical or horizontal – drawn through an upright body. The terms are used to describe a specific body part.

anatomical planes

Listed below are general anatomical terms and their meanings.

Anatomical Planes
Coronal Plane or Frontal Plane
Sagittal Plane or Lateral Plane
Axial Plane or Transverse Plane
Anatomical Terms Direction
Medial Toward the midline of the body
Lateral Away from the midline of the body
Proximal Toward a reference point (extremity)
Distal Away from a reference point (extremity)
Inferior Lower or below
Superior Upper or above
Cephalad or Cranial Head
Caudal or Caudad Tail, tail end
Anterior Toward the front
Posterior Toward the back
Dorsal Posterior
Ventral Anterior


Updated on: 05/15/19
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Mary Rodts, DNP
Associate Professor
Rush College of Nursing
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