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Anatomical Planes

(Sample Lesson)


An anatomical plane (body plane) is an imaginary two-dimensional surface that passes through the body. There are three planes commonly referred to in anatomy and medicine.

(a) The sagittal plane is the plane that divides the body or an organ vertically into right and left sides. If this vertical plane runs directly down the middle of the body, it is called the midsagittal or median plane. If it divides the body into unequal right and left sides, it is called a parasagittal plane or less commonly a longitudinal section.

(b) The frontal plane is the plane that divides the body or an organ into an anterior (front) portion and a posterior (rear) portion. The frontal plane is also often referred to as a coronal plane.

(c) The transverse plane is the plane that divides the body or organ horizontally into superior (upper) and inferior (lower) portions. Transverse planes produce images referred to as cross-sections.

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The anatomical planes are used as reference surfaces when portions of the body are sectioned (cut) or viewed. Body sections may be real or virtually produced by medical imaging devices.

When a portion of the body is sectioned, it shows a two-dimensional surface of a three-dimensional structure, which can be difficult to interpret. A section can be better understood when a viewer knows the anatomical plane along which the section was made.


A frontal plane section of the kidney refers to a vertical cut that partitions the organ into anterior and posterior portions.

Frontal Plane Section of the Kidney
Frontal section of kidney (labeled)

Labeled and Unlabeled Versions
(1125px X 1500px)

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Page Attributions

OpenStax College, Anatomy and Physiology

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