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What Is the Ventral Body Cavity?

The ventral body cavity is a hollow space at the front part of the human body that houses bodily organs.
The rib cage surrounds the thoracic part of the ventral cavity.
The heart is housed in the ventral body cavity.
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  • Written By: J. Finnegan
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2014
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The ventral body cavity is a hollow space at the front part of the human body. It houses viscera, which are bodily organs. The ventral body cavity is opposed by the dorsal body cavity, which is at the back of the body. The ventral and dorsal body cavities are the two main cavities of the human body.

Two body cavities join together to form the ventral body cavity. They are the thoracic cavity, which is in the chest region, and the abdominopelvic cavity, which is in the abdominal and pelvic regions. The ventral body cavity and the abdominopelvic cavity are separated by the diaphragm, which is a slender muscle that sits below the heart and lungs.

The thoracic part of the ventral cavity, or the thoracic cavity, is encompassed by the ribs. It houses the heart and lungs. These organs are covered and protected by membranous tissues. The pericardium is a membranous sac that surrounds the heart, and the pleural cavity is a membrane that lines the outside of the lungs.

There actually are two body cavities that comprise the abdominopelvic cavity. The upper portion is the abdominal cavity, which is in the belly. The lower portion is the pelvic cavity, and it is the space between the hips. There is no organ or tissue dividing these two cavities.

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The abdominopelvic cavity is so large that it gets divided into four parts, or quadrants, to make area-referencing easier. These are called the right upper, right lower, left upper and left lower quadrants. The directional markers refer to the subject's left and right, not the viewer's left and right. For example, if the viewer is looking at the subject's abdominal area, the viewer's right side would correspond with the subject's left side, so the viewer would be looking at either the subject's left upper quadrant or left lower quadrant.

The upper abdominal part of the ventral body cavity, or the abdominal cavity, is enclosed by the lower part of the ribcage. The stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and kidneys are in the abdominal cavity, as are the ureters, which are tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. These organs are covered by a smooth, delicate membrane called the peritoneum.

The lower abdominal part of the ventral body cavity is called the pelvic cavity. It's enclosed by the pelvic bones. The anus, bladder and reproductive organs are in the pelvic cavity. These organs are also covered by the peritoneum.

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