Guided Tour of the Visible Human: Planes of Section

The body may be sectioned in one of three planes relative to a three dimensional coordinate system (X-Y-Z).

Transverse Coronal Sagittal
Transverse (X-Y) Coronal (X-Z) Sagittal (Y-Z)
Transverse (or axial) sections form a series of slices, rather like stacking a group of pancakes atop one another. Transverse sections run top (superior) to bottom (inferior). Your chin is inferior to your forehead but superior to your knees. These terms may be used interchangeably with cranial (as in the cranium of your head) and caudal (latin for 'tail') You can go through the entire body in this animation of transverse sections
Coronal sections follow front to back, as though cutting through a corona, or halo, around the head. In medical terms anterior means front, and posterior means back. The terms ventral (front), and dorsal (back) may be used interchangeably. The following animation of coronal sections runs anteriorly from the nose to the posterior of the head (Quicktime movie).
Sagittal sections run from one side of the body to the other - left to right, or right to left. In medical terms lateral means towards the sides, and medial towards the middle. The nose is medial (and inferior!) to the eyes, while the ears lie lateral to the eyes and nose. The animation of sagittal sections traverses from the right shoulder to the left, and back again (Quicktime movie). A labeled version shows key internal organs (Quicktime movie).

To simplify the visualization of 3D structures from 2D images, try this short animation of the sagittal sections. Specific organs have been marked in the images. Focus on a single organ, and follow how it appears in different sections. If you assume images are 2-3 centimeters apart, would you be able to create an approximate 3D shape of the organ using the information from the 2D images?

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GIF Movies: Transverse Animation | Coronal Animation | Sagittal Animation | Labeled Sagittal Sections

Quicktime Movies: Coronal Animations | Sagittal Animations | Labeled Sagittal Animation