What is the Difference Between Superior and Inferior in Anatomy

The main difference between superior and inferior in anatomy is that the term ‘superior’ describes the anatomical structures located above another whereas the term ‘inferior’ describes the anatomical structures located below another structure. For example, the head is the most superior structure of the body while feet is the most inferior structure of the body.

Superior and inferior are two anatomical terms that describe the location of different structures of the body.

Key Areas Covered

1. What Does Superior Mean
     – Definition, Anatomical Location, Significance
2.  What Does Inferior Mean
     – Definition, Anatomical Location, Significance
3. What are the Similarities Between Superior and Inferior
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Superior and Inferior
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Above, Anatomical Terms, Below, Inferior, Towards the End of the Body, Superior

Difference Between Superior and Inferior in Anatomy - Comparison Summary (1)

Superior – Definition, Anatomical Location, Significance

‘Superior’ is the anatomical term that describes the structures of the body located above a particular structure. Moreover, this term comes from the Latin word ‘above’. In humans, the head is the most superior anatomical structure of the body. Therefore, the term ‘superior’ can also describe structures towards the head.

What is the Difference Between Superior and Inferior in Anatomy

Figure 1: Superior and Inferior

Additionally, this term can be used to give the relative position of a particular anatomical structure of the body based on the altitude. For example, the neck is located superior to the chest.

Inferior – Definition, Anatomical Location, Significance

‘Inferior’ is the opposite term of superior. The term can describe the structures located below the body. It also comes from the Latin word ‘below. Moreover, the anatomical position the most inferior part of the human body is the feet. Similarly, the term ‘inferior’ can describe the structures towards the feet in the human body. Additionally, in other animals, this term can describe the structures located towards the end of the body.

Superior vs Inferior in Anatomy

Figure 2: Superior and Inferior Vena Cava in the Heart

Moreover, when describing the relative position of an anatomical structure, we can use the term ‘inferior’ can describe the structures located below to another particular structure. For example, the neck is inferior to the head.

Similarities Between Superior and Inferior

  • Superior and inferior are two anatomical terms in anatomy.
  • Moreover, they are important in describing locations of different structures of the body.

Difference Between Superior and Inferior in Anatomy

Definition

Superior refers to ‘above’ while inferior refers to ‘below’.

Anatomical Location

The term ‘superior’ is used to describe the anatomical structures above while the term ‘inferior’ is used to describe the anatomical structures below. Thus, this is the main difference between superior and inferior in anatomy.

Relative Position

Also, another difference between superior and inferior is that the term ‘superior’ can be used to describe the anatomical structures located towards the head while the term ‘inferior’ can be used to describe the anatomical structures located towards the feet or end of the body.

Examples

In humans, the neck is located superior to the chest, but inferior to the head.

Conclusion

Superior is the term used to describe anatomical structures located in the above. Therefore, the head is the most superior anatomical structure in humans. On the other hand, inferior is the term used to describe the anatomical structures located in the below. Therefore, feet are the most inferior anatomical structure in humans. Also, these two terms can be used to describe relative positions of the anatomical structures of the body as well. Therefore, the main difference between superior and inferior in anatomy is the relative position of anatomical structures by means of altitude.  

References:

1. Mraz, Stephen. “The Difference between Medial and Lateral, Proximal and Distal, and Superior and Inferior (Biomechanics).” Machine Design, 8 Aug. 2016, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Dorsal vs Ventral.” Kenhub, Available Here.1. “Blausen 0019 AnatomicalDirectionalReferences” By BruceBlaus. Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia  
2. “Relations of the aorta, trachea, esophagus and other heart structures” By ZooFari (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia   

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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