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Cardinal Planes

From Physiopedia

Original Editor - The Open Physio project

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Rachael Lowe and Laura Ritchie  

Contents

Summary

Plane Axis Description
Sagittal / Antero-posterior Coronal or Frontal, Lateral Bisects the body from front to back, dividing it into left and right halves. Flexion and Extension movements usually occur in this plane.
Coronal / Frontal / Lateral Sagittal or Antero-posterior Bisects the body laterally from side to side, dividing it into front and back halves. Adbuction and Adduction movements occur in this plane.
Transverse / Horizontal Vertical Divides the body horizontally into Superior and Inferior halves. Rotational movements usually occur in this plane.


General usage

[1]

Three basic reference planes are used in anatomy.

  • A sagittal plane is a plane parallel to the sagittal suture and divides the body into sinister (left) and dexter (right) portions. The midsagittal or median plane is in the midline i.e. it would pass through the midline structures (e.g. navel or spine), and all other sagittal planes (also referred to as parasagittal planes) are parallel to it. Median can also refer to the midsagittal plane of other structures, such as a digit.
  • A coronal or frontal plane divides the body into dorsal (posterior or back) and ventral (anterior or front) portions.
  • A transverse plane, also known as an axial plane or cross-section, divides the body into cranial (head) and caudal (tail) portions.

Note: for post-embryonic humans a coronal plane is vertical and a transverse plane is horizontal, but for embryos a coronal plane is horizontal and a transverse plane is vertical.

When describing anatomical motion, these planes describe the axis along which an action is performed. So by moving through the transverse plane, movement travels from head to toe. For example, if a person jumped directly up and then down, their body would be moving through the transverse plane in the coronal and sagittal planes.

A longitudinal plane is any plane perpendicular to the transverse plane. The coronal plane and the sagittal plane are examples of longitudinal planes.

Usage in clinical situations

Sometimes the orientation of certain planes needs to be distinguished, for instance in medical imaging techniques such as sonography, CT scans, MRI scans or PET scans. One imagines a human in the anatomical position, and an X-Y-Z coordinate system with the X-axis going from front to back, the Y-axis going from left to right, and the Z-axis going from up to down. The X-axis axis is always forward (Tait-Bryan angles) and the right-hand rule applies.

  • A transverse (also known as axial or horizontal) plane is an X-Y plane, parallel to the ground, which (in humans) separates the superior from the inferior, or put another way, the head from the feet.
  • A coronal (also known as frontal) plane is an Y-Z plane, perpendicular to the ground, which (in humans) separates the anterior from the posterior, the front from the back, the ventral from the dorsal.
  • A sagittal (also known as median) plane is an X-Z plane, perpendicular to the ground, which separates left from right. The midsagittal plane is the specific sagittal plane that is exactly in the middle of the body.

The axes and the sagittal plane are the same for bipeds and quadrupeds, but the orientation of the coronal and transverse planes switch. The axes on particular pieces of equipment may or may not correspond to axes of the body, especially since the body and the equipment may be in different relative orientations.

Movements

[2]

Extension occurs when the angle between two adjacent segments in the body increases as the ventral surfaces of the segments move away from each other and occurs in a sagittal plan about a frontal axis. An exception is extension of the thumb, which takes place in a frontal plane about a sagittal axis.

Flexion occurs when the angle between two adjacent segments in the body decreases as the ventral surfaces of the segments approximate each other and occurs in a sagittal plane about a frontal axis. An exception is flexion of the thumb, which takes place in a frontal plane about a sagittal axis.

Abduction

Adduction

Lateral Rotation (External Rotation)

Medial Rotation (Internal Rotation)

Sources

Recent Related Research (from Pubmed)

References

References will automatically be added here, see adding references tutorial.

  1. Tim Huffines. Anatomical Position and Cardinal Planes. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDxfe5Ny6zM [last accessed 22/02/13]
  2. Mark Barkwell. Anatomical Terms of Movement. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YcNAPzDxDg [last accessed 22/02/13]

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