Table 3

Anatomical and descriptive terms*

TermDefinition
Body planes
TransverseAnatomical region (eg, knee) when displayed in cross-section to the region
LongitudinalAnatomical region (eg, knee) when displayed parallel to the region lengthwise; when used to refer to an anatomical region, may refer to either the coronal or sagittal plane
Coronal (frontal) image plane5 Any plane perpendicular to a sagittal plane and parallel to the long axis of the body; each coronal image plane extends from left to right through the body.
Sagittal image plane5 The anteroposterior plane parallel to the long axis of the body and passing through the midline; anteroposterior planes not passing through the centre of the body are frequently called parasagittal planes.
Transverse image plane5 A plane perpendicular to the long axis of the body or structure of interest; with respect to the body, a transverse plane extends from left to right and divides the body into superior and inferior regions.
Axes
Short axis or transverseTarget structure (eg, Achilles tendon) when displayed in cross-section perpendicular to the structure’s length
Long axis or longitudinalTarget structure (eg, Achilles tendon) when displayed parallel to the structure’s length
Directional terms
Proximal/distalDescribes a position that is closer (proximal) or farther (distal) from the centre of the body
Anterior/posteriorDirection toward (anterior) or away from (posterior) the front of the trunk or limb (excluding the forearm, hand and foot)
Superior/inferiorDirection above or towards (superior) or below or away from (inferior) the head
Medial/lateralDirection toward the tibia (medial) or toward the fibula (lateral) when describing structures below the knee
Ulnar/radialDirection toward the ulna (ulnar) or toward the radius (radial) when describing structures in the forearm, wrist and hand
Volar/dorsalAnterior (volar) or posterior (dorsal) surface of the forearm
Palmar/dorsalAnterior (palmar) or posterior (dorsal) surface of the hand and wrist
Plantar/dorsalSole (plantar) or top (dorsal) surface of the foot
  • *All anatomical terms are defined with the body in the anatomical position.