In order to better identify and diagnose a patient's symptoms in a clinical setting, the body is divided into the axial and appendicular regions.
The axial region includes the head, neck, spinal column, and trunk. It is broken down into the following regions and subregions:
- Cephalic region (head): contains the frontal (forehead), orbital (eyes), nasal (nose), otic (ear), buccal (cheek or mouth), and occipital (back of the head) regions.
- Thoracic region (trunk): contains the sternal (breastbone, or sternum), axillary (underarm), and pectoral (chest) regions. The thoracic cavity is separated from the abdominal cavity by a skeletal muscle used for breathing called the diaphragm. The diaphragm plays a vital role in drawing air into the lungs and expelling air from the lungs.
- Abdominopelvic region: The abdominopelvic region can be organized into nine regions. The umbilical region contains the small intestine, the transverse colon, the stomach, and the pancreas. The epigastric region is the upper central section of the abdomen containing the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, and the kidneys. The hypochondriac region contains the parts of the abdomen on either side of the epigastric region. The spleen and left kidney are in the left hypochondriac region, and the liver and right kidney are in the right hypochondriac region. The hypogastric region is the lower central section of the abdomen that contains the small intestine, the sigmoid colon, and the bladder. The lumbar region contains the parts of the midabdomen on either side of the umbilical region. Together the left and right lumbar regions contain the liver tip, the small intestine, the ascending and descending colon, and the kidneys. The inguinal region contains the parts of the lower abdomen on either side of the hypogastric region. Together the left and right inguinal regions contain the small intestine, the ascending and descending colon, the cecum, the appendix, and the sigmoid colon. Alternatively, the abdominopelvic region can be broken down into four quadrants. For example, the appendix is located in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. If a patient has pain in this area, an inflamed appendix may be the cause.
- Dorsal region: contains the scapular (shoulder blade), vertebral (spine), lumbar (lower back), sacral (between the hips), and gluteal (buttocks) regions.
The Abdominal Quadrants and Regions
- Upper extremities (arms and pectoral girdle): the acromionial (shoulders), brachial (upper arms), olecranial (back of the elbow), antecubital (front of elbow), antebrachial (forearm), carpal (wrist), manus (hand), palmar (palm), and digital (fingers) regions.
- Lower extremities (legs and pelvic girdle): the coxal (hips), femoral (thigh), patellar (front of the knee), popliteal (back of the knee), crural (calf of leg), pedal (foot), digital (toes), and plantar (sole of the foot) regions.