Body cavities

Body cavities are spaces within the body that contain the internal organs. There are two main cavities in the body:

• the dorsal cavity which is located in the posterior (back) region of the body

• the ventral body cavity which occupies the anterior (front) region of the trunk.

The dorsal cavity is subdivided into two cavities:

1 Cranial cavity

Encases the brain and is protected by the cranium (skull)

2 Vertebral/spinal cavity

Contains the spinal cord and is protected by the vertebrae

The ventral cavity is subdivided into:

1 The thoracic cavity

Surrounded by the ribs and chest muscles, the thoracic cavity contains the lungs, heart, trachea, oesophagus and thymus

Separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm muscle

2 The abdominopelvic cavity

The abdominal cavity

Contains the stomach, spleen, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine and most of the large intestine

The abdominal cavity is protected by the muscles of the abdominal wall and partly by the diaphragm and ribcage

The pelvic cavity

Contains the bladder, some of the reproductive organs and the rectum The pelvic cavity is protected by the pelvic bones.

Images Rectum Pelvic Cavity

Fig 0.3 Body cavities

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