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Nursing School Knowledge: Abdominal Quadrants and Organs

Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
By SimpleNursing | Published February 27th, 2024
Published February 27th, 2024
A young Black woman patient touches her hand to her stomach while on an examination bed as a young woman nurse in scrubs examines her.

As a nursing student, you have to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time. 

This includes the four abdominal quadrants and the organs found within each quadrant. But learning this information isn’t just an exercise in memorization.

It’s the roadmap to understanding clients’ needs.

Why?

Because it helps nurses assess, recognize and perform nursing interventions for various abdominal conditions or injuries. In this article, we’ll review the basics and share some tips on remembering the quadrants, regions, and organs.

The 4 abdominal quadrants and organs in each quadrant

The appropriate way to divide the abdomen is into four equal parts, called abdominal quadrants.

Draw two imaginary lines: one vertical line that runs through the umbilicus (belly button) and one horizontal line that crosses the umbilicus at the waist level. We break down the four quadrants and the organs found in each one below.

As you review each quadrant, remember that all four quadrants have parts of the large and small intestines.

Right upper quadrant (RUQ)

  • Duodenum
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Right kidney
  • Right adrenal gland
  • Stomach 

Left upper quadrant (LUQ) 

  • Left adrenal gland
  • Left kidney
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Stomach 

Right lower quadrant (RLQ) 

  • Appendix
  • Reproductive organs
  • Right ureter

Left lower quadrant (LLQ) 

  • Left ureter
  • Reproductive organs

Tips to remember the 4 quadrants 

  • The quadrants are relative to the body, not the viewer. The right and left sides refer to those of the client.
  • Understanding the anatomical landmarks of the abdominal cavity can also aid in identifying the correct quadrant, such as the location of the umbilicus (belly button) and the midline.

The 9 abdominal regions

Further division of the abdomen results in nine distinct regions, achieved using two parasagittal planes and two horizontal (transverse) planes. 

These regions include the:

  • Hypochondriac (left and right): found on the upper sides of the abdomen, under the ribs.
  • Lumbar (left and right): situated on either side of the umbilical or navel region, near the waistline.
  • Iliac (left and right): found on the lower sides of the abdomen, near the hip bones.
  • Epigastric: positioned in the middle above the stomach and between the two hypochondriac regions.
  • Umbilical: located in the center, around the belly button.
  • Hypogastric: situated below the umbilical region, towards the pubic bone.

Major organs in the 9 abdominal regions

  1. Right hypochondriac: contains the liver, gallbladder, right kidney, and small and large intestines.
  2. Epigastric: houses the duodenum, liver, pancreas, and stomach.
  3. Left hypochondriac: includes the left kidney, large and small intestines, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and the tip of the liver.
  4. Right lumbar: consists of the ascending colon, right kidney, and small intestine.
  5. Umbilical: contains the duodenum, small intestine, and transverse colon.
  6. Left lumbar: includes parts of the descending colon, left kidney, and small intestine.
  7. Right Iliac: houses parts of the appendix, ascending colon, cecum, and small intestine.
  8. Hypogastric: contains the bladder, sigmoid colon, reproductive organs, and small intestine.
  9. Left Iliac region: includes the descending colon, sigmoid colon, and small intestine.

Tip to remember the 9 regions of the abdomen

To remember the nine abdominal regions, use the simple mnemonic: “Hector Loves Isabel Every Unceasing Hour.”

This stands for the regions in order from top to bottom: hypochondriac, lumbar, iliac, epigastric, umbilical, and hypogastric.

If you want more tips and tricks for remembering anatomical and other medical terms, join SimpleNursing.com.

Our platform offers comprehensive video lectures and quizzes to help you ace your exams and build a strong foundation in nursing. With our easy-to-understand explanations and visual aids, learning complex concepts like the abdominal regions becomes a breeze.

Sign up for a free trial today and see for yourself!

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Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
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