Friday, January 27, 2012

Free Medical Terminology Flash Cards: Directional Terms

Many medical professionals depend on terms in order to correctly identify a portion of the body. An area may be described through directions or where they lie in comparison to other areas of the body. Some positions on the body may be described by more than one term. Many of these directional medical terms also have an opposite term due to symmetry of the body.

Using medical directional terminology can be less confusing than saying right, left, top, or bottom. For example, when I worked as a cancer nurse, I often cared for patients who had double lumen port-a-caths. These were intravenous access devices that had two sides with two different needles. When charting, we would identify the port with the words medial and lateral rather than left and right. When looking at a patient, it might be easy to confuse a patient's left and right with one's own left and right, but identifying the device by its proximity to the center of the body had less room for error.

When I began studying directional terms, I found it helpful to think of terms with which I was already familiar. For instance, I could remember the location of a dorsal fin on a fish, so that helped me to learn that the dorsal area on a person was the back of the body. A person with a superficial personality was someone whose actions tend to be shallow just as a superficial wound would be on the upper surface of the skin.

Some directional terms seemed totally foreign to me when I began studying, and it helped me to make up silly sayings and word pictures to help me to remember them. For instance, I would picture someone holding his hands out with palms up saying "I'd like some soup" to help me to remember supination.

These are not all possible directional terms, and some terms may have other definitions in other contexts; however, these are some of the more common ones used in medical terminology.

How to Use These Directional Med Term Flash Cards:

Each medical term is followed by its definition. Click on the first flash card below to enlarge it. Click on the next thumbnail at the bottom of the screen in order to see the next card. Feel free to start at the bottom and work toward the top for variety.

I hope you find these medical terminology study guides helpful. Find more resources at my site map!

Medical Terminology Directional Terms Flash Cards
Free Medical Terminology Study Guides
What does cranial mean?
Cranial definition: related to the head
What does posterior mean?
Posterior definition: pertains to the back of the body
What does proximal mean?
Proximal definition: nearest the center or point of origin
What does deep mean?
Deep definition: toward the inside and away from the surface
What does dorsum mean?
Dorsum definition: back surface; top of foot
What does supine mean?
Supine definition: lying horizontally on one's back
What does inferior mean?
Inferior definition: below; down; toward the feet or tail
What does anterior mean?
Anterior definition: pertains to the front; toward the belly
What does superficial mean?
Superficial definition: pertains to the surface; near the surface
What does dorsal mean?
Dorsal definition: pertains to the back; posterior
What does distal mean?
Distal definition: away from the trunk; farthest from the point of origin
What does ventral mean?
Ventral definition: toward the belly or front; anterior
What does pronation mean?
Pronation definition: palms of hands are turned down
What does medial mean?
Medial definition: toward the midline
What does caudal mean?
Caudal definition: pertains to the tail
What does superior mean?
Superior definition: above; upward; toward the head
What does plantar mean?
Plantar definition: pertains to the bottom of the foot
What does lateral mean?
Lateral definition: away from the midline; toward the side
What does supination mean?
Supination definition: palms of the hands turn upward
What does prone mean?
Prone definition: lying horizontally facedown
Med term flashcards on direction for the whole body

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