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What Are Anatomical Planes?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
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  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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In the field of anatomy, it is often necessary to divide the body into various sections for purposes such as teaching. It is for this reason that imaginary lines are often drawn, dividing the body into different sections known as anatomical planes. These planes are referred to as the coronal, sagittal, and axial planes.

The coronal plane is also called the frontal plane. These anatomical planes are used to divide the body into front and back regions. The front is also known as the anterior region of the body while the back is often called the posterior region. Dorsal and ventral are also terms used to describe the front and back divisions in the coronal plane.

The sagittal plane is sometimes known as the lateral plane. These anatomical planes describe the separation of the body into right and left regions. The sagittal is broken down further into the midsagittal and parasagittal planes.

The midsagittal, or median plane, is the sagittal plane that is used to divide the body equally into right and left regions. Although some areas of the body cannot be divided into equal right and left sections. These areas of unequal dimensions are included in what is known as the parasagittal plane. These areas are comprised of any locations in this plane that do not pass directly through the midline of the body.

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The axial plane is another of the anatomical planes used when dividing the body into sections. This is also commonly known as the transverse plane. The axial plane is used to divide the body into upper and lower sections. The upper section is often referred to as the superior section while the lower section is called inferior.

While the anatomical planes listed above make up the most basic division of the body into various planes or sections, each can be divided even further in order to allow for more specialized study. The field of anatomy requires precise and exact divisions to be made, dependent upon the area of expertise of the student or medical professional.

It is also interesting to note that the directions describe the various anatomical planes is different when studying the anatomy of an embryo. For example, the coronal plane is generally considered to be vertical while the axial plane is horizontal. In an embryo, these two planes have opposite directional meanings.

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