Surface Anatomy of the Abdomen: Introduction

by James Pickering, PhD

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    00:08 In this lecture, we are going to look at the surface anatomy of the abdomen. So, we are going to look at various surface landmarks which we can observe on the anterior and lateral aspects of the abdomen. We are going to use these landmarks to create various reference planes and regions and then using these regions, locate the position of organs within the abdomen.

    00:32 For example, we will look at where the appendix is located and where the liver is. And then, finally, towards the end of the lecture, we are going to importantly look at the sensory distribution, how the skin of the abdomen receives its sensory innervation and how this passes back to the spinal cord. And this is important when we are looking at the distribution of pain from pathologies within the abdomen and the viscera of the abdominal organs.

    01:04 So, on the screen at the moment, we can see the body plan of the male and the female and we are really going to be concentrating on this region which we can see here in the male, the abdomen and also which we can see in the female. So, this abdominal region as positioned inferior to the thorax. And on here, we can pick out a series of important landmarks, some of which we can feel on ourselves and we can start off superiorly with the xyphoid process, which in the male, we can see it’s here and in the female, we can see is about here. We can feel this landmark on ourselves if you feel your sternum in your thoracic cavity and go inferiorly and where it stops, that point is your xyphoid process.

    01:52 Radiating laterally away from this process, we have the costal cartilages of ribs 7, 8, 9 and 10 and these radiate away in this direction in the male and similarly, they do so in the female and this marks the superior boundary of the abdomen. Inferiorly, we have a few landmarks which we can observe. Again, in the midline in the male and the female, we have the pubic crest and the pubic symphysis. We will see these later on when we go into the pelvis and we look at the bones of the pelvis. And radiating away from the pubic crest and pubic symphysis, we find we have the inguinal ligaments. We have these two ligaments, one on either side and these form the inferior boundary of the abdomen. So, here we can see the superior and the inferior boundaries of the abdomen in both the male and the female.

    02:53 If we have a close up view of the abdomen we can see there’s numerous features which we can observe just on the surface, this is about going into the abdominal cavity itself and we can pick out a number of these features. Again, we can separate the abdominal cavity into this region here which we are going to focus on. Specifically, we can see we have the umbilicus in the midline here and then radiating superiorly and inferiorly away from the umbilicus, we have the linea alba and this separates the abdomen into left and right sides.

    03:29 So, we can see the umbilicus, we can see that here and we can see that midline, the linea alba. Either side of the linea alba, we have a series of muscles which are radiating inferiorly down. These are running like strap like muscles either side of the midline and these are 6-packs. Some people may be able to see them depending on how much subcutaneous fat you have under your skin, but you can see that either side of the midline we have these indentations that gives this region its characteristic 6-pack appearance. Lateral to these muscles, we can see we have got this line running down here separating the 6-pack from the more lateral musculature which we will cover in due course and these are known as our semilunar lines. So, we have the linea alba in the midline, we have the umbilicus and then lateral to it we have a pair of semilunar lines, here and here. We can also see a few bony landmarks. So, we have a structure on either side of the body known as the anterior superior iliac spine and this is approximately here and here and these are the structures which you are supposed to hang your trousers on. So, your trousers are supposed to sit on these bony landmarks. And as we saw in the previous slide, these radiate... structures from these regions radiate down to the midline where we find the pubic symphysis and the iliac crest. So, from the anterior superior iliac spine which we can see here, we then have in the midline, the iliac crest and the pubic symphysis. And running down, we see this slight depression which indicates the inguinal ligament and we just see it slightly depressed and that’s our inguinal groove. So, these surface landmarks on the abdomen are really important in helping us observe if there is any scarring or if there is any damage being... that’s occurred to this region. But, this is a nice normal anterior aspect of the abdomen.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Surface Anatomy of the Abdomen: Introduction by James Pickering, PhD is from the course Abdomen.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Pubic symphysis
    2. Iliac spine
    3. Xiphoid process
    4. Inguinal ligaments
    5. Rectus abdominis
    1. Linea alba
    2. Linea aspera
    3. Linea semilunaris
    4. Arcuate line
    5. Iliopectineal line
    1. 7, 8, 9, and 10
    2. 7, 8, and 9
    3. 6, 7, and 8
    4. 8, 9, and 10
    5. 9, 10, 11, and 12

    Author of lecture Surface Anatomy of the Abdomen: Introduction

     James Pickering, PhD

    James Pickering, PhD

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