Dictionary > Median plane

Median plane

In anatomy, the median plane refers to a plane passing vertically through the midline. It divides the body into left and right halves of equal proportion, i.e. in the case of bilateral symmetry. In the human body, the median plane corresponds to the plane running from the top to the bottom through the midline structures such as navel and spine.


The term median came from the Latin medianus, which pertains to the middle whereas the term plane came from the Latin plānum, meaning “flat surface”. Synonym: midsagittal plane.

Anatomical planes

The different anatomical planes of the human body: coronal plane, transverse plane, and sagittal plane. The plane that runs through the median is the median plane.

Anatomical planes are hypothetical planes used in describing the location of bodily structures or movement directions. There are three major planes used in animal and human anatomy: (1) the sagittal plane, (2) coronal plane (also called frontal plane or Y-X plane), and (3) transverse plane (also called axial plane or X-Z plane). The sagittal plane (also called lateral plane or Y-Z plane) refers to any hypothetical plane that runs parallel to the median plane. There are two types of sagittal plane: median and parasagittal.

Median plane vs. median section

The median section (also called midsagittal section) refers to the cross-section that runs through the median plane. The term can be applied both in actuality and through imaging techniques. The median section may be applied to a whole body or any body part that is sliced across the median plane. In the human body, the components of the left plane are often symmetrical to the components of the right plane. Since actual sectioning the median plane results in a right and a left half, an anatomical median section may be a two-dimensional view of the cut surface on the medial aspect of either half.

Median plane vs. sagittal plane

The sagittal plane is a plane traversing the direction from top to bottom. Thus, similar to the median plane, the sagittal plane results in the formation of left and right portions. However, the left and right sections of a sagittal plane may not be of the same girth as the cut could be done anywhere from top to bottom. In the case of cutting through the midline, it would be referred to as the median plane, which is also referred to, in particular, as the mid-sagittal plane. Thus, a median plane is a type of sagittal plane that runs along the midline.

Median plane vs. parasagittal plane

Another type of sagittal plane is the parasagittal plane. It is the plane situated alongside or parallel to the mid-sagittal plane. Thus, it would refer to any plane traversing the direction from top to bottom but except for the midline as it would then be referred to as the median plane. For example, the midclavicular line crossing through the clavicle is a parasagittal plane.

See also


  1. 1.4D: Body Planes and Sections. (2018, July 18). Retrieved from Medicine LibreTexts website: https://med.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Anatomy_and_Physiology/Book%3A_Anatomy_and_Physiology_(Boundless)/1%3A_Introduction_to_Anatomy_and_Physiology/1.4%3A_Mapping_the_Body/1.4D%3A_Body_Planes_and_Sections

Further readings

© Biology Online. Content provided and moderated by Biology Online Editors

You will also like...

An artistic depiction of Dunkleosteus fish

The sea was teeming with life. Eventually, through reproduction and continued variation, fish came about. There are over..

Genetic engineering
Genetic Engineering Advantages & Disadvantages

This tutorial presents the benefits and the possible adverse eventualities of genetic engineering. Know more about this ..

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins - dietary sources
A Balanced Diet – Carbohydrates and Fat

Apart from vitamins, the human body also requires high energy sources such as carbohydrates and fats. If you want an ove..

Nephrolepis exaltata
Vascular Plants: Ferns and Relatives

Ferns and their relatives are vascular plants, meaning they have xylem and phloem tissues. Because of the presence of va..

Cambial cells
Plant Tissues

Plant organs are comprised of tissues working together for a common function. The different types of plant tissues are m..

Hormone Production
Hormone Production

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by specialized glands and they were produced by switching on the genes designe..

Related Articles...

No related articles found

See all Related Topics