The 4 Abdominal Quadrants: Regions & Organs

This lesson provides an overview on the four major abdominal quadrants. It introduces individual quadrants, names the organs contained within each, and describes organ function. A review and brief quiz are also included.
How the Body is Organized
The human body is an amazing assortment of cells, tissues, organs, blood vessels, and nerves. A tour through medical texts begins to reveal the sheer complexity that exists within human beings. Because of this complexity, learning about the body as a whole is a daunting task.
To make studying and understanding more manageable, the body is often broken down into its various systems, such as skeletal, circulatory, and endocrine. Anatomically, it’s subdivided into sections such as major muscle groups, brain lobes, or abdominal quadrants. Abdominal quadrants are the four major regions into which the abdomen is divided.
Division of the Abdomen
Dividing the abdomen into quadrants allows anatomists, medical personnel, and students alike to more easily study the abdominal region. Commonly, division schemes involve splitting the abdominal region into four quadrants and nine areas. For the purposes of this lesson, we’re only concerned with the four quadrants.
Four Abdominal Quadrants
Four Abdominal Quadrants
As you can see in the diagram, the four abdominal quadrants are located in the space directly below the diaphragm. These regions are named by their location:
The Right Upper Quadrant, or RUQ
The Right Lower Quadrant, or RLQ
The Left Upper Quadrant, or LUQ
and the Left Lower Quadrant, or the LLQ
Now, let’s take a look at each of these areas.
Abdominal Quadrants and Organs
The Right Upper Quadrant, or the RUQ, contains very significant organs, or at least, portions of them. Within this quadrant, you’ll find the right portion of the liver, the gallbladder, right kidney, a small section of the stomach, part of the colon, and sections of small intestine. These organs provide a variety of services. For example:
The liver helps rid our bodies of toxins.
Kidneys filter blood.
The stomach aids in digestion.
The small intestine helps absorb nutrients.
And the gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver.
Knowing what organs lie within the Right Upper Quadrant, or RUQ, helps people both understand human anatomy, as well as provide preliminary diagnosis based on pain emanating from this region. For example, if someone needed gallbladder surgery, he/she may first experience pain or discomfort in the RUQ.
The Left Upper Quadrant, or LUQ, contains similar organs to the RUQ. In the LUQ, you’ll find the left portion of the liver, the majority of the stomach, the pancreas, the left kidney, the spleen, portions of the colon, and again, parts of the small intestine.
Much like the RUQ, the organs contained in this section perform important functions. For example, the pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine and produces hormones, such as insulin. Knowing which organs are in the LUQ and what they do is again useful in diagnostics.
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