Be aware that medical terms that have the same meaning but are used differently in the clinical care of patients, as follows:

  • anterior and ventral:

Although similar in meaning, anterior is used to indicate spatial relationships of body parts to each other throughout the body, but ventral is most often used to indicate a relationship to the anterior abdominal wall.


  • the nose is anterior to the ear
  • a ventral hernia is a hernia in the anterior abdominal wall.
  • superior and upper, and inferior and lower:
    • the use of upper rather than superior has evolved from common usage rather than following a strict anatomical designation.

Examples: upper lip and upper eyelid are proper clinical designations rather than superior lip or superior eyelid. But superior pole of the kidney is the proper terminology for the “upper” or “top” of the kidney.

  • likewise, the terms lower lip and lower eyelid are in clinical usage rather than inferior lip and inferior eyelid. And the colon is commonly referred to as the lower bowel, but not the inferior bowel.


These differences are quickly learned in clinical experience.






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