Comprehensive Overview of Anatomy Regions, Planes, and Parts

Amanda Thomas Apr 11, 2024
Anatomy Regional Terms

If asked to drop what you’re doing right now and take a quiz on anatomy, would you:

  • A. Pass with flying colors.
  • B. Struggle to remember the basic concepts.
  • C. Panic and break out in hives.

If you chose A, congratulations! You’re a star.

If you chose B or C, don’t worry. This comprehensive overview is for you.

Of course, understanding terminology regarding the in anatomy and physiology of the body isn’t just about passing exams (although that’s a big part).

It’s about laying the groundwork for the care you’ll provide in your future career as a nurse.

Jump to Section


  1. What are the Five Regions of the Body?
  2. What are the Three Planes of the Body?
  3. The Smaller Regions of the Axial Region
  4. The Smaller Regions of the Appendicular Region
  5. Mnemonics to Help You Remember Anatomical Regions

What are the Five Regions of the Body?

The human body consists of five main regions:

  1. Head (cephalic): This cephalic region holds vital organs such as the brain. It also holds sensory organs like the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
  2. Neck (cervical): The cervical region connects the head to the trunk. It houses the trachea, esophagus, and major blood vessels.
  3. Trunk (abdominopelvic and thoracic): This is the largest region of the body, comprising the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. It houses the heart, lungs, liver, and intestines.
  4. Upper limb: Includes the arms, from the shoulder to the fingertips.
  5. Lower limb: Encompasses the legs, from the hips to the feet.

What are the Three Planes of the Body?

To better understand anatomical relationships, you can divide the body anatomy into three planes (or four planes with the Oblique plane):

  1. Axial (transverse): This horizontal plane separates the body into upper (superior) and lower (inferior) portions.
  2. Coronal (frontal): The coronal plane splits the body vertically into front (anterior) and back (posterior) portions.
  3. Sagittal (lateral): This vertical plane divides the body into left and right halves.

The Smaller Regions of the Axial Region

The axial region consists of the head, neck, and trunk. It houses vital organs and facilitates various bodily functions.

You can also divide it into smaller regions.

Head (cephalic)

The smaller regions of the head include the:

  • Cheek (buccal)
  • Chin (mental)
  • Ear (otic)
  • Eye (ocular)
  • Forehead (frontal)
  • Mouth (oral)
  • Nose (nasal)
  • Skull (cranial) and base of the skull (occipital)

Neck

The neck region holds the cervical vertebrae — the first seven bones of the spine.

Trunk

The trunk includes the anterior and posterior (front and back) regions of the torso.

Anterior

  • Stomach (abdominal)
  • Armpit (axillary)
  • Groin (inguinal)
  • Breast (mammary)
  • Hip (pelvic)
  • Pubic (hypogastric)
  • Perineal

Posterior

  • Back (dorsal)
  • Buttocks (gluteal)
  • Chest (thoracic)
  • Lower back (lumbar)
  • Bottom of spine (sacral)
  • Spine (vertebral)

The Smaller Regions of the Appendicular Region

The appendicular region includes the upper and lower limbs, which you can divide into smaller regions.

Upper Limb

The upper limb consists of the:

  • Shoulder (acromial)
  • Arm (brachial)
  • Front elbow (antecubital)
  • Back elbow (olecranal)
  • Forearm (antebrachial)
  • Wrist (carpal)
  • Hand (manual)
  • Fingers (digital)
  • Thumb (pollex)
  • Palm (palmar)

Lower Limb

Similarly, the lower limb includes the:

  • Side of the hip (coxal)
  • Thigh (femoral)
  • Front of the knee (patellar)
  • Back of knee (popliteal)
  • Front of the leg (crural)
  • Ankle (tarsal)
  • Foot (pedal)
  • Toes (digital)
  • Big toe (hallux)
  • Calf (sural)
  • Heel (plantar)

Mnemonics to Help You Remember Anatomical Regions

Here are some mnemonic devices you can use to help remember the different anatomical regions:

  • Armpits (axillary): “Axillary” sounds like Axe deodorant that’s used under the armpits.
  • Chin (mental): Think of Auguste Rodin’s statue, “The Thinker,” with his chin resting on his hand.
  • Chest (thoracic): Picture Thor, the Norse god of thunder, with a strong chest.
  • Wrists (carpal): Think about carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the wrists.
  • Knee (patellar): Picture someone patting their knee.

If these mnemonics don’t work for you, try creating your own using words or images that are easier to remember. Knowing the different anatomical regions can be a lot of information to take in, so finding ways to make it more manageable and memorable can be helpful.

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