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Directional Terms and Body Positions


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Superior or cephalic
toward the head or upper portion of the body
Inferior or caudal
toward the feet or lower portion of the body
Anterior of ventral
toward the front of the body
Posterior or dorsal
toward the back of the body
toward the midline or center of the body
to the side of the body
near the center of the body
away from the body
pertaining to both sides of the body
pertaining to only one side of the body
pertaining to the palm of the hand
pertaining to the sole of the foot
toward the interior
near the surface
the wall of a hollow organ or body cavity
the inner covering of the surface of an organ or body cavity
Supine Position
patient lying on back
Prone Position
patient lying on stomach
Dorsal Recumbent Position
patient lying on back, with knees bent and feet flat on examination table; arms at the sides
Lithotomy Position

Hint: Birthing Position
patient lying on back, with knees bent, thighs abducted (apart), and feet resting in stirrups
Knee-chest Position

Hint: Doggie Style Position
patient's head, chest and knees are flat against the examining table
Sim's Position, or left lateral Position
patient lies on the left side, with left arm behind the back; left knee is slightly bent, and right knee is flexed rather sharply
Trendelenburg Position
patient lies supine, with the head lower than the trunk and the knees straight
Modified Trendelenburg Position
patient lies supine, with the head lower than the trunk; knees are bent and the feet are below the level of the knees
Sitting Position
patient sits on the examining table, with knees bend; feet on a footrest
Fowler's Position
patient is sitting, with legs extended and the trunk at a 90 degree angle; the back is supported by the examining table

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