Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hard Fact


In my para-previous post, I referred to an injury to my medial digital nerve. Because our bodies are movable, it's necessary to have standard terminology in reference to positions; when your hand is palm up, medial and lateral are the opposite of when it's palm down. Thus, the "Anatomic Position," the reference posture by which, among other things, medial and lateral are determined. This guy is in it.

And here's something amusing. In addition to medial/lateral we refer to "dorsal" and "ventral." In the anatomic position, ventral is the front, and dorsal is the back. We're seeing this guy's ventral surfaces. So what? Well, there are these things called the dorsal veins of the penis. And whaddya know? In the specimen standing there at the top of this post, we're looking at the surface on which those veins run. But it's ventral! So there's only one explanation: in the anatomic position, the penis is erect! Those anatomists! Wonder what goes on in their labs...

[Short post. Long series coming up.]

12 comments:

Richard said...

That's hilarious!

I never thought of that.

Erica said...

I too have wondered what makes the dorsal vein dorsal - but even my twisted mind failed to make the leap to a blue joke that goes as far back as anatomical position... Thanks for the grins.

The Peanut Gallery said...

That is one of the few things I remember from gross anatomy - that the anatomical position of the penis is erect. That was a real giggle inducer for us first year.

Anonymous said...

petaller? what does that mean?

Sid Schwab said...

I used the diagram because it demonstrates the "anatomic position." The labels, well, it's the best I could find. I ignored them, and you should, too.

beajerry said...

As many women age, their superior breast surfaces become ventral?

Greg P said...

Everything comes down to precision in language. I think "medial digital nerve" is not so clear. We can talk about the medial and lateral aspects of the upper extremities, with the anatomic position being, as in your diagram, arms extended at the sides, palms forward.
Sometimes the term "mesial" is used to refer to something toward the center of a structure, in this case the mesial part of the arm would be toward the central axis of the arm.
My own preference is to use the terms "radial aspect" or "ulnar aspect" to relate things to the forearm bones as reference points.

Wyatt said...

Heh, those anatomists. Isn't the anatomical position supine, though, in which case gravity no longer exerts its influence and the little guy flips up revealing its underbelly?

Sid Schwab said...

Pretty sure the anatomic position is just like the guy in my picture.... Standing, er, erect.

Anonymous said...

what about the dorsalis pedis artery? It's on the superior (top) face of foot, so shouldn't it be called superioris pedis?

I thought that all the terms came from the first dissections, where the subject would be supine (why else were the hands positioned that way?), but funny theory.

James Ryan said...

hellooooo...my name is ryan, i'm a 4th year medical student at manchester uni, england. I'm currently doing a project on andreas vesalius and the dignity of anatomical teaching and the dissection process and would like to know whether anyone here knows exactly where the anatomical position originates from? My theories are the virtruvian man and Christ showing hsi wounds...its been suggested that its the way the body lies on the table but naturally the body wouldn't have its thumbs pointing outwards with its palms open...any ideas? email james.hamill@student.manchester.ac.uk THANKS!

James Ryan said...

hellooooo...my name is ryan, i'm a 4th year medical student at manchester uni, england. I'm currently doing a project on andreas vesalius and the dignity of anatomical teaching and the dissection process and would like to know whether anyone here knows exactly where the anatomical position originates from? My theories are the virtruvian man and Christ showing hsi wounds...its been suggested that its the way the body lies on the table but naturally the body wouldn't have its thumbs pointing outwards with its palms open...any ideas? email james.hamill@student.manchester.ac.uk THANKS!