Overview of the Abdominal Cavity and Viscera
The abdominal cavity is located between the thoracic (respiratory) diaphragm and
the pelvic inlet.
It is important to note that it extends superiorly to the level of the 5
Its surface anatomy is divided into 4 quadrants (RUQ, RLQ, LUQ, LLQ), or 9 regions.
The contents of the 4 quadrants are:
The 9 regions are created by 4 planes:
2 horizontal planes at the subcostal line and
transtubercular line (iliac tubercles at the level of L5); and 2 vertical planes at the
The 9 regions are:
left and right hypochondriac; left and right
lumbar; left and right iliac; and epigastric, umbilical, and hypogastric.
important structures or events in the 9 regions are:
right hypochondriac: liver and gall bladder
epigastric: pain from heartburn, ulcer
left hypochondriac: spleen tenderness
right lumbar (flank): ascending colon, kidney
umbilical: visceral pain often refers here
left lumbar (flank): descending colon, kidney
right inguinal: appendix
hypogastric (pubic, suprapubic): bladder and rectum
left inguinal: gas pain
Right Upper Quadrant
rt. lobe of liver, gallbladder, pylorus, the first
three parts of the duodenum, head of the
pancreas, rt. suprarenal (adrenal) gland, rt.
kidney, rt. colic (hepatic) flexure, sup. part of
ascending colon, rt. half of transverse colon
Left Upper Quadrant
lt. lobe of liver, spleen, most of stomach,
jejunum and proximal ileum, body and tail of
pancreas, lt. suprarenal (adrenal) gland, lt.
kidney, lt. colic (splenic) flexure, sup. part of
descending colon, lt. half of transverse colon
Right Lower Quadrant
cecum, appendix, most of ileum, inf. part of
ascending colon, rt. ovary, rt. uterine tube, rt.
ureter, rt. spermatic cord
Left Lower Quadrant
sigmoid colon, inf. part of descending colon, lt.
ovary, lt. uterine tube, lt. ureter, lt. spermatic