How Anterior Is Used to Describe Anatomy

Anterior refers to the front of the human body when used to describe anatomy. The opposite of anterior is posterior, meaning the back of the human body.

The term anterior is typically used in combination with other words that describe the location of a body part. For example, the belly button may be described as anterior, mid-abdominal, meaning it is located on the front of the body in the middle of the abdomen.

Doctor examining pregnant patient's belly
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Is It Anterior or Posterior?

Anterior can be determined by imagining the body sliced in half, from left to right. Everything on the front slice is anterior, the tissue in the back slice is posterior. 

Posterior is the opposite of anterior and refers to the back of the body. If the body part is not pictured in Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian man diagram, it is likely a posterior body part. The back of the hand and the sole of the foot are not pictured in the diagram, so they are posterior when described.

Anterior is also known as anatomical position, anterior-posterior, and an example is the anterior refers to the front of the body, so the face and abdomen are considered anterior body parts.