Understanding and employing anatomical terminology of placement is critical. They assist in
the avoidance of ambiguity when discussing the location of constructions.
In this article, we’ll look at the basic anatomical terms of location and some instances of
how they’re used in anatomy.
Medial and Lateral
The medial definition means toward the middle or center. It is the opposite of lateral. The
phrase refers to the overall placement of body parts.
However, a lateral orientation is a position away from the body’s midline. Similarly, a lateral
raise is a shoulder-strengthening exercise that entails externally rotating while lifting a pair
of dumbbells away from your body. Lateral raises engage the trapezius muscle in the upper
back and the deltoid muscle group in the shoulders, notably the anterior and lateral
For example, the chest is medial to the arm, considered a line in the sagittal plane that
equally divides the right and left halves. This is where you’ll find yourself in the middle.
Medial refers to the direction of travel towards the midline, whereas lateral refers to travel
away from the midline.
• The eye is on the lateral side of the nose,
and the nose is on the medial side of the ears.
• The biceps tendon is medial to the brachial artery.
Anterior and Posterior
The ‘front’ is known as anterior, whereas the ‘back’ is known as posterior. To put it in
perspective, the heart is located behind the sternum, and the sternum is located posterior be anterior to the heart.
Anatomists use the word “anterior” to talk about the front of the body. The back of a
person’s body is called the posterior, which is the opposite of the word "anterior." The word
“anterior” is often used with other words to describe where an organ or part of the body is.
Also, the serratus anterior (SA) is a muscle that helps move and control the scapula dynamic
when pushing and lifting the arm over the head.
• The pectoralis major is anterior to the pectoralis minor, while the triceps are
posterior to the biceps brachii.
• The patella is anterior to the biceps brachii.
Superior and Inferior
• These phrases refer to the vertical axis. Superior refers to anything that is ‘higher’
whereas inferior relates to something that is ‘lower.’ The head is higher than the neck, and
the umbilicus is lower than the sternum.
• We run into a minor snag here: limbs are quite movable, and what is good in one
position may be poor in another. As a result, in addition to superior and inferior, another
descriptive pair of adjectives is required:
• The nose is higher than the mouth, the lungs are higher than the liver, and the appendix is
(usually) lower than the transverse colon.
Additionally, feelings of incompetence or inferiority are included in an inferiority complex. A
real physical flaw may bring on these emotions or surface when we feel inferior to our
competitors conceptually. In other instances, the alleged inferiority can have been created
from totally imagined flaws.f
Proximal and Distal
In structures that are thought to have a beginning and an end, the words proximal and distal
are utilized (such as the upper limb, lower limb and blood vessels). They characterize a
structure's position to its origin — proximal means closer to the origin, distal implies further
• The scaphoid is located in the proximal row of carpal bones.
• The knee joint is located proximal to the ankle joint.