Anatomical Planes

Many views of the body are based on real or imaginary "slices" called sections or planes. "Section" implies an actual cut or slice to reveal internal anatomy, whereas "plane" implies an imaginary flat surface passing through the body. The three major anatomical planes are sagittal, frontal, and transverse (fig. A.3).

A sagittal1 (SADJ-ih-tul) plane passes vertically through the body or an organ and divides it into right and left portions. The sagittal plane that divides the body or organ into equal haves is also called the median (mid-sagittal) plane. The head and pelvic organs are commonly illustrated on the median plane (fig. A.4a).

A frontal (coronal) plane also extends vertically, but it is perpendicular to the sagittal plane and divides the body into anterior (front) and posterior (back) portions. A frontal section of the head, for example, would divide it into one portion bearing the face and another bearing the back of the head. Contents of the thoracic and abdominal cavities are most commonly shown in frontal section (fig. A.4fc).

1sagitta = arrow

A transverse (horizontal) plane passes across the body or an organ perpendicular to its long axis (fig. A.4c); therefore, it divides the body or organ into superior (upper) and inferior (lower) portions. CT scans are typically transverse sections (see fig. 1.17, p. 24).

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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