Regions of the Human Body

In order to specify where body parts are located, different areas of divided into anatomical planes. Imagine dividing the body in half from bottom to top, then from left to right, and lastly from back to front. When determining these regions, the imaginary body is standing with arms at sides, palms facing forward, and feet side by side. Of course, whether the person is sitting or standing, the regions are the same.

The terms anterior and ventral are used when referring to the front of the body. The back of the body is referred to as posterior and dorsal. Above the waistline is referred to as cephalad or superior. Below the waistline is referred to as caudal or inferior.

The sides of the body are referred to as lateral. The middle of the body is referred to as medial.

The term distal indicates that the location is “away from the point of origin.” The term proximalindicates that the location is “nearest to the point of origin.” The two words are fairly easy to remember.  Distal resembles the word distant. If the point in question were the hip, the foot is away from the point of origin. If the point in question were the hand, the point nearest to the point of origin would be the wrist.

The chart below might help you better understand the roots of directional terms.

Root Words For Terms Referring to DIrection
Caud/odownward or tail
Cephal/oupward or head
Dist/odistance (away from the point of origin)
Poster/oback or behind
Proxim/oproximity (nearest to the point of origin)
Ventr/ofront or belly

We’re not done yet! The human body has a lot of regions to cover! In contrast to the anatomical planes that we just covered, body regions are used to identify a specific area of the body. It would do no good to refer to the front of the body unless we knew the exact region. Two of the body’s major regions are the abdominal region and the spinal region.

From the diaphragm to the pelvic region, the abdominal region is divided into 9 equal regions called Abdominopelvic regions. There are three regions across the top, three in the middle, and three across the bottom. As unusual as it might sound, the nine regions are divided exactly like a tic-tac-toe game. The nine abdominopelvic regions are listed in the chart below.

right hypochondriac regionepigastric regionleft hypochondriac region
right lumbar regionumbilical regionleft lumbar region
right iliac regionhypograstic regionleft iliac region

When a patient is being examined, only four quadrants are used. The abdominal regions are referred to as abdominopelvic quadrants. Did we confuse you yet? The abdominal regions mentioned above are listed in anatomy textbooks to specify where certain organs are located.  In clinical practice, the four quadrants are used as listed below.

right upper quadrantleft upper quadrant
right lower quadrantleft lower quadrant


The chart below lists some of the smaller body regions found in the human body.

Regions of the Human Body
Auricular regionaround the ears
Axillary regionarmpits
Buccal regioncheeks
Clavicular regioneach side of the sternum
Infraorbitalregionbelow the eyes
Infrascapular regionbetween the shoulder blades
Lumbar regionbelow the infrascapular region
Mammary regionbreast area
Mental regionchin
Orbital regioneyes
Pubic regionabove the pubis
Sternal regionover the sternum
Submental regionbelow the chin

Our final discussion in this lesson is the spinal column. The spinal column consists of bone tissue, while the spinal cord is composed of nerve tissue. The spinal column is divided into five regions. The chart below explains the five regions of the spinal column from top to bottom..

Regions of the Human Spinal Column
Cervical regionLocated in the neck region. There are seven cervical vertebrae numbers from C1 to C7.
Thoracic or Dorsal regionLocated in the chest region. There are 12 thoracic or dorsal vertebrae number from T1 to T12 or D1 to D12.
Lumbar regionLocated between the ribs and the hip bone. There are five lumbar vertebrae number from L1 to L5.
Sacral regionThere are five bones numbers S1 to S5 that are fused together to form the sacrum.
Coccygeal regionIncludes the coccyx which is 4 pieces fused together.



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