Medical Terminology for Regions of the Body
Body parts and their accompanying medical terms don’t make a whole lot of sense until you can put them in the context of their general location within the body. Your body can be defined in several different ways, from groups and regions to cavities and planes.
Body regions are used to specifically identify a body area. To illustrate all that’s involved with a body region, take a closer look at two major regions: the abdominal and spinal.
The abdominal area is divided further into anatomic regions to diagnose abdominal problems with greater accuracy.
Starting with the diaphragm, which is the muscle separating the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity, down to the level of the pelvis or groin, the abdominal area is divided into nine equal regions.
Visualize the abdomen divided into nine squares: three across the top, three across the middle, and three across the bottom, like a tic-tac-toe board. The center portion is the umbilical region, the region of the navel or the umbilicus. Directly above this is the epigastric region, or the region of the stomach. Directly below the umbilical region is the hypogastric region.
On either side of the epigastric region are the right and left hypochondriac regions. To the right and left of the umbilical region are the right and left lumbar regions. To the right and left of the hypogastric region are the right and left iliac regions.
The anatomical divisions of the abdomen are referenced in anatomy textbooks to specify where certain organs are found.
The clinical regions of the abdomen are used to describe the abdomen when a patient is being examined. The clinical regions of the abdomen divide the abdominal area, as above, into four equal quadrants:
The right upper quadrant (RUQ) contains the right lobe of the liver, gallbladder, and parts of the small and large intestines.
The left upper quadrant (LUQ) contains the left lobe of the liver, stomach, pancreas, spleen, and parts of the small and large intestines.
The right lower quadrant (RLQ) contains parts of the small and large intestines, appendix, right ureter, right ovary, and fallopian tube.
The left lower quadrant (LLQ) contains parts of the small and large intestines, left ureter, left ovary, and fallopian tube.
Here’s a quick look at some of the smaller body regions, beginning at the head and moving downward.
|Region||Where It Is|
|Auricular region||Around the ears|
|Buccal||Cheeks of the face|
|Clavicular||On each side of the suprastemal notch (small dip at top of the
|Infraorbital||Below the eyes|
|Infrascapular||On each side of the chest, down to the last rib|
|Interscapular||On the back, between scapulae (shoulder blades)|
|Lumbar||Below the infrascapular area|
|Mental||Region of the chin|
|Occipital||Lower posterior head|
|Orbital||Around the eyes|
|Popliteal||Behind the knee|
|Pubic||Below the hypogastric region (above the pubis)|
|Sacral||Area over the sacrum|
|Sternal||Over the sternum|
|Submental||Below the chin|
|Supraclavicular||Above the clavicles|
More body divisions are the regions of the spinal column, also known as the back. Note the difference between the spinal column (the vertebrae) and the spinal cord (the nerves running through the column). The spinal column is made of bone tissue, and the spinal cord is composed of nerve tissue.
The spinal column is divided into five regions. Begin at the top and work downward:
The cervical region (abbreviation C) is located in the neck region. There are seven cervical vertebrae, C1 to C7.
The thoracic or dorsal region (abbreviation T or D) is located in the chest region. There are 12 thoracic or dorsal vertebrae, T1 to T12, or D1 to D12. Each bone in this segment is joined to a rib.
The lumbar region (abbreviation L) is located at the loin or the flank area between the ribs and the hip bone. There are five lumbar vertebrae, L1 to L5.
The sacral region (abbreviation S) has five bones, S1 to S5, that are fused to form one bone, the sacrum.
The coccygeal region includes the coccyx, or tailbone, a small bone composed of four fused pieces.
Check out the body’s anatomical positions and regions, planes, and cavities.
It is important to remember that all these terms are for directional purposes only. They provide a road map to the body.
In a medical examination, directional planes, regions of the abdomen, and divisions of the spinal column are used often by the examiner.