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Human Anatomy

 

Glossary of Commonly Used Anatomical Terms

Abduction: A movement from a midline (as opposed to adduction)
Adduction: A movement toward a midline (as opposed to abduction)
Afferent: Conveying a fluid or a nerve impulse toward an organ or area (as opposed to efferent)
Ampulla: A sac like dilation of a canal
Analogous: Similar in function or appearance but having a different origin or structure (compared with homologous)
Anastomosis: A natural communication between two blood vessels
Anatomical Position: The body is upright with the arms and hands turned forward
Anomaly: A structure that is unusual or abnormal
Anterior: Towards the front of the body (as opposed to posterior)
Aponeurosis: A fibrous sheet of collagenous bundles serving as a connection between a muscle and its attachment
Articulation: A union between different bones.
Caudal: Toward the "tail"; inferior
Coronal Plane: A vertical plane at right angles to the sagittal plane that divides the body into anterior and posterior portions
Cranial: Relating to / or towards the skull/head
Deep: Away from the surface (as opposed to superficial)
Dermatome: An area of skin supplied by a single spinal nerve
Distal: Away from the point of origin of a structure (as opposed to proximal)
Dorsal: Relating to the back or posterior portion (as opposed to ventral)
Efferent: Conveying a fluid or a nerve impulse away from a central organ (as opposed to afferent)
Evaginate: To protrude from; an out-pouching, forming a sac or tube
Extension: A movement at a joint resulting in separation of two ventral surfaces (as opposed to flexion)
Fascia: Connective tissue lying beneath the skin enveloping muscle groups and various organs
Flexion: A movement at a joint resulting in approximation of two ventral surfaces (as opposed to extension)
Fistula: An abnormal communication between two organs
Foramen: A natural opening found primarily in a bone
Fossa: A pit or depression
Frontal Plane: Same as coronal plane
Ganglion: A collection of nerve cell bodies located outside the brain or spinal cord
Horizontal Plane: A transverse plane at right angle to the long axis of the body
Inferior: A term indicating that a given structure lies beneath another
Insertion: The site of an attachment of a muscle, tendon, or aponeurosis to bone
Lateral: Located away from the midline
Ligament: A band of fibrous connective tissue joining two bones
Lumen: Opening within a tubular organ or vessel
Meatus: A tube like opening within a bone
Medial: Situated close to or at the midline of the body or organ (as opposed to lateral)
Median: Centrally located, situated in the middle of the body
Motor: Denoting axons that convey impulses from the central nervous system to muscles or glands producing movement or secretion (as opposed to sensory)
Palpate: To examine by pressing or touching
Para: Prefix denoting along side or next to
Patent: Open or exposed
Peri: Around or surrounding an object
Plexus: A network of nerves or vessels
Posterior: Relating to the back or the dorsal aspect of the body (as opposed to
anterior)
Postganglionic: Situated distal to a ganglion
Preganglionic: Situated proximal to a ganglion
Prevertebral: In front of the vertebral column or vertebrae
Process: A marked prominence protruding from a bone marking site of attachment of muscles
Prone: Position of the body in which the ventral surface faces down (as opposed to supine)
Retro: Prefix meaning situated behind
Rotation: Move around a fixed axis
Sagittal Plane: A vertical plane extending in an antero-posterior direction dividing the body into right and left parts
Sensory: Axons conveying information from the periphery into the central nervous system (as opposed to motor)
Septum: A partition dividing two cavities or masses of soft tissue
Superficial: On or near the surface (as opposed to deep)
Superior: Above in relation to another structure; toward the head (as opposed to inferior)
Supine: Position of the body in which the ventral surface faces up (as opposed to prone)
Tendon: A fibrous band of dense regular connective tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone
Transverse Plane Same as horizontal plane
Tubercle: A small rounded elevation on a bone
Tuberosity: A relatively large protuberance from the surface of a bone
Valgus Position: Term relates to the alignment of segments of the upper and lower limbs. Position in which the distal bone is abducted with respect to the proximal bone.
Varus Position: Term relates to the alignment of segments of the upper and lower limbs. Position in which the distal bone is adducted with respect to the proximal bone.
Ventral: Refers to anterior part of body (as opposed to dorsal)