Anatomy Mnemonics

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The Geeky Medics list of anatomy mnemonics has been curated to help you remember important anatomical concepts and facts


Upper limb

Attachment of latissimus dorsi: “Lady Between Two Majors”

Latissimus dorsi attaches to the humerus between pectoralis major and teres major.

Rotator cuff muscles: SITS

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor
  • Subscapularis

See our guide to the intrinsic muscles of the shoulder.

Structure of the brachial plexus: “Reach To Drink Cold Beer”

  • Roots
  • Trunks
  • Divisions
  • Cords
  • Branches (nerves)

See our overview of the brachial plexus.

Contents of the cubital fossa: “Really Need Beer TBAMNicest”

From lateral to medial:

  • Radial Nerve
  • Brachial Tendon
  • Brachial Artery
  • Median Nerve 

Muscles involved in elbow flexion: “Three Bs Bend the Elbow”

  • Biceps brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis

Carpal bones: “Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle”

Starting from the thumb:

  • Scaphoid
  • Lunate
  • Triquetral
  • Pisiform
  • Trapezium
  • Trapezoid
  • Capitate
  • Hamate

See our guides to the bones of the hand and the wrist joint.

Median nerve supply to the hand: LOAF

  • Lateral two lumbricals
  • Opponens pollicis
  • Abductor pollicis brevis
  • Flexor pollicis brevis

Actions of the interosseous muscles of the hand: PAD DAB

  • Palmar interossei: ADduction
  • Dorsal interossei: ABduction

See our guide to the intrinsic muscles of the hand.


Lower limb

Contents of the femoral triangle: NAVEL

From lateral to medial:

  • Nerve
  • Artery
  • Vein
  • Empty space
  • Lymphatics

Femoral triangle boundaries: SAIL

  • Sartorius
  • Adductor longus
  • Inguinal Ligament

Abdomen

Borders of the inguinal canal: MALT

  • Muscles (roof)
  • Aponeurosis (anterior wall)
  • Ligaments (floor)
  • Tendon (posterior wall)

See our guide to inguinal hernias.

Retroperitoneal structures: SAD PUCKER

  • Suprarenal (adrenal) Glands
  • Aorta/IVC
  • Duodenum (2nd / 3rd part)
  • Pancreas (not the tail)
  • Ureters
  • Colon (ascending and descending)
  • Kidneys
  • (O)esophagus
  • Rectum

Abdominal wall muscles: TIRE

  • Transversus abdominis
  • Internal oblique
  • Rectus abdominis
  • External oblique

See our guide to the muscles of the anterior abdominal wall.

Meckel’s diverticulum: “The Rule of 2s”

  • 2% of the population
  • 2 times more common in males
  • 2 inches (5cm) long
  • 2 feet proximal to the ileocecal valve
  • 2 types of mucosal lining (gastric and pancreatic)

Branches of the coeliac trunk: “Left Hand Side”

  • Left gastric
  • common Hepatic
  • Splenic

See our overview of the abdominal aorta.


Thorax

Atrioventricular valves: LAB RAT

  • Left Atrium: Bicuspid
  • Right Atrium: Tricuspid

See our guides to thoracic anatomy.

Innervation of the diaphragm (phrenic nerve): “C3, C4, C5 keep the diaphragm alive”

Diaphragm apertures

Count the number of letters:

  • Aortic hiatus: 12 letters (=T12)
  • Oesophagus: 10 letters (=T10)
  • Vena cava: 8 letters (=T8)

Serratus anterior: “SALTy WINGS”

  • Serratus Anterior is innervated by the Long Thoracic nerve
  • Loss of function results in a Winged scapula

Nerve roots of the long thoracic nerve: “C5, 6, 7 reach to heaven”

  • C5, C6, C7 are the nerve roots of the long thoracic nerve

Head and neck

Layers of the scalp: SCALP

  • Skin
  • Connective tissue
  • Aponeurosis
  • Loose connective tissue
  • Pericranium

Structures passing through the foramen ovale: OVALE

  • Otic ganglion (lies inferior)
  • V3 (mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve)
  • Accessory meningeal artery
  • Lesser petrosal nerve
  • Emissary veins

Contents of the cavernous sinus: O TOM CAT

O TOM are lateral wall components, in order from superior to inferior. CA are the components within the sinus, from medial to lateral. CA ends at the level of T from O TOM

  • Oculomotor nerve
  • Trochlear nerve
  • Ophthalmic branch of trigeminal nerve
  • Maxillary branch of trigeminal nerve
  • internal Carotid artery
  • Abducens nerve
  • Trochlear nerve

Extraocular muscles: LR6 SO4 3

  • Lateral rectus: 6th cranial nerve (abducens)
  • Superior oblique: 4th cranial nerve (trochlear)
  • Everything else: 3rd cranial nerve (oculomotor)

Cranial nerves: “On, On, On, They Travelled And Found Voldemort Guarding Very Ancient Horcruxes”

Note – many other different versions of this mnemonic exist! 

  • Olfactory nerve (CN I)
  • Optic nerve (CN II),
  • Oculomotor nerve (CN III)
  • Trochlear nerve (CN IV)
  • Trigeminal nerve (CN V)
  • Abducens nerve (CN VI)
  • Facial nerve (CN VII)
  • Vestibulocochlear nerve (CN VIII)
  • Glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX)
  • Vagus nerve (CN X)
  • Accessory nerve (CN XI)
  • Hypoglossal nerve (CN XII)

See our cranial nerve summary.

Tonsils: “PPL (people) have tonsils”

  • Pharyngeal
  • Palatine
  • Lingual

See our oral cavity examination guide.


Dermatomes

Cervical

  • “C7 the middle finger to heaven”

Thoracic

  • T4 nipple: “teet pore” (sounds like T4)
  • T10 umbilicus: “Bellybuten

Lumbar

  • L4: Knee “On all fours

Sacral

  • S1: “Small toe”

See our overview of dermatomes and myotomes.


 

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