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Anatomy Of The Abdomen

Discover the fascinating intricacies of the human body as we delve into the captivating anatomy of the abdomen, unraveling its secrets and shedding light on its vital functions.

Anatomy of the Abdomen: A USMLE Guide


The abdomen is a crucial region of the body that houses various important organs. Understanding the anatomy of the abdomen is essential for medical students studying for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the anatomy of the abdomen to aid in your preparation.

Divisions of the Abdomen

The abdomen can be divided into four quadrants and nine regions:

Four Quadrants

  1. Right Upper Quadrant (RUQ): Contains the liver, gallbladder, and parts of the small intestine.
  2. Left Upper Quadrant (LUQ): Contains the stomach, spleen, and parts of the small intestine.
  3. Right Lower Quadrant (RLQ): Contains the appendix, cecum, and parts of the small intestine and large intestine.
  4. Left Lower Quadrant (LLQ): Contains parts of the small intestine and large intestine.

Nine Regions

  1. Epigastric Region: Located above the umbilical region and contains parts of the liver, stomach, and pancreas.
  2. Umbilical Region: Surrounding the umbilicus, it contains parts of the small intestine and transverse colon.
  3. Hypogastric Region: Located below the umbilical region and contains the bladder, reproductive organs, and sigmoid colon.
  4. Right Hypochondriac Region: Contains the liver, gallbladder, and right kidney.
  5. Left Hypochondriac Region: Contains the stomach, spleen, and left kidney.
  6. Right Lumbar Region: Contains the ascending colon and right kidney.
  7. Left Lumbar Region: Contains the descending colon and left kidney.
  8. Right Iliac (Inguinal) Region: Contains the cecum, appendix, and right ureter.
  9. Left Iliac (Inguinal) Region: Contains the sigmoid colon and left ureter.

Muscles of the Abdominal Wall

The abdominal wall is composed of several muscles that provide support and protection to the abdominal organs. Key muscles include:

  1. Rectus Abdominis: Located in the anterior midline, it helps flex and rotate the trunk.
  2. External Oblique: Positioned on the sides and front of the abdomen, it aids in trunk rotation and flexion.
  3. Internal Oblique: Located beneath the external oblique, it also assists in trunk rotation and flexion.
  4. Transversus Abdominis: The deepest muscle layer, it helps compress the abdominal contents and stabilize the trunk.

Abdominal Organs

Numerous vital organs reside within the abdomen, including:

Digestive System

  1. Stomach: Located in the LUQ, it receives and breaks down food.
  2. Liver: Found in the RUQ, it produces bile and performs various metabolic functions.
  3. Gallbladder: Situated beneath the liver, it stores and concentrates bile.
  4. Pancreas: Located behind the stomach, it produces digestive enzymes and hormones.
  5. Small Intestine: Consists of the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, where nutrient absorption occurs.
  6. Large Intestine: Comprised of the cecum, colon, and rectum, it absorbs water and forms feces.

Urinary System

  1. Kidneys: Positioned on each side of the spine in the lumbar region, they filter blood and produce urine.
  2. Bladder: Found in the hypogastric region, it stores urine before elimination.

Reproductive System

  1. Male: The testes, part of the male reproductive system, are located in the scrotum.
  2. Female: The uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes reside in the hypogastric region.

Blood Supply and Innervation

The abdominal organs receive blood supply from various arteries, including:

  1. Celiac Trunk: Supplies the liver, stomach, and spleen.
  2. Superior Mesenteric Artery: Provides blood to the small intestine and part of the large intestine.
  3. Inferior Mesenteric Artery: Supplies the remaining part of the large intestine.

Innervation of the abdomen is primarily through the anterior rami of spinal nerves T7-T12.


Understanding the anatomy of the abdomen is crucial for medical students preparing for the USMLE. This guide has provided an overview of the divisions, muscles, organs, and blood supply of the abdomen. Remember to review and practice these concepts to enhance your knowledge and perform well on the examination.

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