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Zybright Guest Post: The 5 Stages of Digestion—Anatomy Just for Kids

Food is the fuel that gives your body the energy it needs to go, go, go! Your digestive system moves food that you eat through your body. The food goes through lots of changes as it’s digested so the rest of your body can get what it needs. 

C’mon, let’s take a tour of the five stages of digestion! If you have the app, My Incredible Body, you can follow along!

1.    Come on in! The oral cavity is the doorway to digestion.

 science app for kids image of small intestine

Your mouth, teeth, and tongue form the space that’s called the oral cavity, and where your food begins its adventure. As soon as you take a bite, your food is already changing: your teeth are making it smaller, your saliva (spit) is making it wet, and your tongue helps push it together so you can swallow it.


2.    Next, let’s go down the elevator, otherwise known as your esophagus.

 Learn about the esophagus with My Incredible Body: Amazing anatomy just for kids!

You have a long tube called the esophagus that brings food from your oral cavity to your stomach. If you chew, swallow, and then count to five slowly, you’ll get an idea of how long it takes for food to move down your esophagus and into your stomach.


3.    Now, into the stomach. Come on in, there’s lots of room!

 Learn about the stomach with My Incredible Body: Amazing anatomy just for kids!

Do you know that your stomach is super-stretchy? It can grow to more than double its size, especially after you eat a big meal. Inside your stomach are folds that allow it to expand and contract. After the food enters your stomach, muscles squeeze and churn to mix it with gastric juices, helping to break it down.


4.    Welcome to the small intestine. Make yourself at home; this is going to take a while.

 Learn about the small intestine with My Incredible Body: Amazing anatomy just for kids!

The small intestine is shaped like a long tube, but it’s all scrunched up. If you stretched it out, you could wrap it around your waist more than 10 times! Why is it so long? So your body has lots of time to get out all the nutrients from your food. Inside your small intestine are finger-shaped sponges that absorb nutrients from a meal and pass them into your blood, which delivers them to the rest of your body.


(Here’s a fun kids’ science project: Have them compare the length of a hose to the length of the small intestine. They’ll be surprised something so long can fit neatly into their body!)


5.    Last stop: the large intestine.

Learn about the large intestine with My Incredible Body: Amazing anatomy just for kids! 

Your large intestine is where your body forms waste. Everything you’ve eaten that your body doesn’t want to keep is pressed together here. Water gets squeezed out and absorbed into your body and what’s left leaves your body and goes into the toilet. Plop! Goodbye!


All of the images and most of the text come from My Incredible Body: Amazing Anatomy Just for KidsWinner of a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award. 

My Incredible Body is available for

iPhone/iPad: http://bit.ly/1sJebtp
Android: http://bit.ly/1sWW1Rh
Windows Touch: http://bit.ly/win8_mib

Learn more!

Anatomy and Physiology: Parts of a Human Cell

I remember being in Mr. Farnsworth’s 7th grade science class when we first really began learning about cells. His room looked like the typical high school lab—high, hard tables with Bunsen burners and gas jets that no one was allowed to touch, and a cabinet full of dead things suspended in fluid in jars. My favorite thing about the room was the giant poster of the Triangulum Galaxy (I was, am, and always will be irrevocably fascinated by outer space) on the wall behind his desk. 

But my second favorite thing was the poster depicting the inside of a cell. It hung on the far right wall, next to the chalkboard. While the image of Triangulum was exponentially smaller than the actual galaxy so we could see it in its entirety, the image of the cell was exponentially larger for the same reason. The cell was its own world—but instead of stars, gases, and dark matter, there was mitochondria, a nucleus, and cytoplasm. What that said to me was that, when you got right down to it, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between a cell and a galaxy.

My 7th grade mind = blown.

Cells are amazing, little things, and I do mean little—cells are tiny. Under the right conditions, you might be able to see an amoeba proteus or a paramecium. To get a better sense of cell size, the Genetic Science Learning Center of the University of Utah has a fun, interactive scale. Prepare to be amazed.

There are two types of cells: prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Eukaryotes contain a nucleus and prokaryotes do not. You, dear reader, are a eukaryotic being. You are made up of trillions of eukaryotic cells, of which there are over 200 different types. Each eukaryotic cell type specializes to perform certain functions. Bone cells, for example, form and regenerate bones. Ever fracture a bone? Within days, cells called fibroblasts begin to lay down bone matrix.

Cells can be divided into four groups: somatic, gamete, germ, and stem. Somatic cells are all the cells in the body that aren’t sex cells, like blood cells, neurons, and osteocytes. Gametes are sex cells that join together during sexual reproduction. Germ cells produce gametes. Stem cells (you may be very familiar with this term because it’s always making headlines) are like blank-slate cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and replicate.

The genetic information within each cell acts as a sort of instruction manual, telling a cell how to function and replicate.

Why don’t we take a look at the inside of a typical cell?


Typical Eukaryotic Cell

Eukaryotic cell plasma membrane cytoplasm organelles

The plasma membrane is exactly what it sounds like: a membrane made of plasma. Membranes are structures that separate things; in this case, the plasma membrane of a cell separates its interior from the environment around the cell. It’s not impenetrable, however, as it will selectively let certain molecules enter and exit.

Organelles are the structures within the plasma membrane. Each organelle has a specialized function. They’re called organelles because they act as a cell’s organs.

Intracellular fluid, or cytosol, is the liquid found inside a cell. While most of its makeup is water, the rest isn’t very well understood. Once thought to be a simple solution of molecules, it’s organized on a multitude of levels.

Eukaryotic cell nucleus nucleolus plasma membrane cytosol

The nucleus is a large organelle that contains the cell’s genetic information. Most cells have only one nucleus, but some have more than one, and others—like mature red blood cells—don’t have one at all. Within the nucleus is a spherical body known as the nucleolus, which contains clusters of protein, DNA, and RNA. The genetic information of the cell is encoded in the DNA. The nucleus serves to contain the DNA and transcribe RNA, which exits via pores in the nuclear membrane.


Presenting: The Organelles

While all the parts of a cell are important, here are some of the most recognizable.


Endoplasmic Reticulum

Besides being very fun to say, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a network of membrane-enclosed sacs in a cell that package and transport materials for cellular growth and other functions. There are two types of ER: smooth and rough.

Eukaryotic cell rough endoplasmic reticulum smooth golgi complex apparatus


Golgi Complex/Apparatus

Like the ER, the Golgi complex (or apparatus) is an organelle that packages proteins and lipids into vesicles to be transported.

Eukaryotic cell golgi complex apparatus endoplasmic



“A human being is a whole world to a mitochondrion, just the way our planet is to us. But we’re much more dependent on our mitochondria than the earth is on us. The earth could get along perfectly well without people, but if anything happened to our mitochondria, we’d die.” —A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle (1973)

Eukaryotic cell mitochondria atp power plant energy

While Ms. L’Engle’s concept of mitochondria was more fiction than science (as far as I know, mitochondria don’t talk!), it opened my ten-year-old eyes to the wonders of our bodies. Before Mr. Farnsworth’s cell poster, there was the Time Trilogy.

Mitochondria can number anywhere in the hundreds to the thousands, depending on the cell. They are known as the “power plant” of the cell, providing the main source of energy. Through aerobic respiration, mitochondria generate most of the cell’s adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Active cells in the muscles, liver, and kidneys have a large number of mitochondria to support high metabolic demands.



Eukaryotic cell ribosomes lysosomes organelles golgi complex

Either floating freely in the cytosol, bound to the ER, or located at the outer surface of the nuclear membrane, ribosomes are plentiful within a cell. Ribosomes contain more than 50 proteins and a high content of ribosomal RNA. Their primary function is to synthesize proteins, which are then used by organelles within the cell, by the plasma membrane, or even by structures outside the cell.



Eukaryotic cell lysosomes ribosomes organelles nucleus

These little guys are like the garbage disposals of a cell. Lysosomes contain acid hydrolase enzymes, which break down and digest macromolecules, old cell parts, and microorganisms. They originate by budding off of the Golgi complex.


There are more structures and functions within a cell (like, a lot more) than are listed here, but that’s a post for another day!


Want to learn more?

All the images and most of the content in this post was taken from Anatomy & Physiology, available for iPad, Android tablet, PC, Mac, and Windows Touch.

Want to go further? Download any of our free A&P eBooks, available now at the A&P eBook Library! Click below.


anatomy and physiology science learning education

Related posts

- Anatomy and Physiology: Medical Suffixes
- Anatomy and Physiology: Anatomical Position and Directional Terms
- Anatomy and Physiology: Five Cool Facts about the Middle and Inner Ear

Zybright Guest Blog: Teaching Anatomy with My Incredible Body

This story comes to us from a parent, who wrote in to tell us how his daughter’s curiosity about anatomy was born after a fun science lesson at school—then furthered by our app, My Incredible Body (an app filled with tons of interactive 3D anatomy, and dozens of anatomy questions and answers)!


One day last winter, “Mr. Bones” visited a grade school classroom in Portland, Oregon. The human skeleton model was brought in by a group of parents who run a chiropractic clinic and wanted to make science learning fun for kids. The students learned how bones support the body and facilitate movement. One of the students, Lily, came home utterly hooked on anatomy.

Science App for Kids Image of Kidneys

In his quest to feed her curiosity, Lily’s dad Sean downloaded My Incredible Body. Off she went, like a little explorer, through the various organs and body systems presented in the app. Sean was nice enough to share with us how Lily uses our kids' anatomy app to learn and create her own science activities.

What are Lily’s favorite parts of the app?

She was so excited about the digestive system section that she showed me and wanted to make sure I knew how pee and poop were made. 

How else can you tell that My Incredible Body is making an impression on her?

Right now, the section on kidneys is her favorite. The kidney section is so detailed and interesting that Lily drew and cut out a pair of paper kidneys. I was blown away. I mean, I know she is smart, but really—kidney cutouts?!

kids anatomy education science biology

The lovely Lily with her paper kidneys.

Then she video-chatted with her teenage cousins, explained to them how a bite of pizza travels through the body, and used the app to show them where the kidneys and bladder are located in the body. It was hilarious! Her cousins are 16 and 19 and they were awestruck.

How would you describe the look and feel of the app?

I think the design is great. The UI remains constant throughout the sections, which is helpful for me. The graphics are detailed and the dialogue has a great way of being technical but also telling a fun story.


Is the user experience at the right level for Lily?

The app uses language that is both technically accurate and fun—not too much, but enough to keep Lily’s attention. It treats kids like they have the ability to understand something as complex as the heart and lungs but keeps the communication light.

My daughter is 5 and of course I think she is brilliant, but I believe she is also interested in what most 5 year olds are interested in: pee, poop, and farts are kind of a conversation piece—at least at home.

Digestive system kids anatomy education resized 600

How does Lily like to show what she’s learned?

Lily brings up what she’s learned in the app at places like the zoo or the children’s museum. She knows what the small and large intestines look like and are used for, and she enjoys asking people how long their small intestine is or if they know they have two kidneys.

At the zoo, she wants to know if animals make pee and poop the same way as us.

Lily’s knowledge of the digestive system kind of freaks me out; she understands the entire lifecycle of food and she can explain it to other adults and kids. She is curious how it works in animals and insects as well. My Incredible Body has generated a lot of discussion—and a lot of laughs.


Want an app with interactive educational science content? Try My Incredible Body. It’s got answers to kids’ questions about the bodyWhy do I pee? When I touch something hot, how does my brain know it? How often do I blink my eyes? How many teeth do I have?—and so much more!

App Store Badge Google Play Button WINDOWS STORE black

Special thanks to Steve (and Lily!) for allowing us to post this.

Learn Muscle Anatomy: Bursae

The other day, I let my ten-year old niece play with Muscle Premium on my phone (while I watched cartoons). She kept making the model spin—around and around and around, like a ballerina, until she abandoned it for the muscle actions.

"Auntie," she said, and then didn't follow up with anything, completely engrossed in Elbow Flexion. When I prompted her, she looked up at me and whispered, as if confessing a secret, "Is it supposed to hurt?"

I asked her what she meant. She pointed to the moving model.

"Do bones rub against each other like that all the time? Because I feel like it should hurt."

I watched the animation for a bit—the olecranon of the ulna slid against the humerus's olecranon fossa, back and forth, flexed in a continuous loop. It did look a bit like they were rubbing together. Actually, if there wasn't something there acting as a cushion, moving the joints would be incredibly painful. Luckily, we're not that bad off.

"It doesn't hurt," I began, settling back to finish The Legend of Korra, "Because you have little pillows called bursae inside you that stop your bones from rubbing like that."

She turned her attention back to the TV and waited until the end of the episode to ask more. (My niece is polite like that.)

That was an actual exchange between me and my niece Em, who has an affinity for all things science and interesting. She's awesome.

Anyway, what I told her was the truth: bursae prevent our bones and muscles, particularly in the joints, from rubbing together and creating painful friction. Imagine trying to bend your knee without something to cushion the movement. Talk about ouch, right?

Muscle patella superficial subcutaneous prepatellar bursa knee synovial resized 600 

See those purple lumps in the picture? Those are bursae. They live between bones and bones, or bones and muscles, or muscles and skin, serving to prevent friction at points of stress throughout the body. In the picture, you can see the bursae are either prominently displayed (on top of the patella) or partially hidden between bone and muscle. Think of how often you move and bend your knees—I'm doing it right now, and I'm just sitting! It would be a much more painful action without the bursae there to cushion things.

Bursae come in three packages: synovial, subcutaneous, and adventitious. 



Most of the bursae in the body are synovial: thin-walled sacs interposed between bones, muscles, and tendons. The lining of a bursa contains a capillary layer of synovial fluid, which provides two lubricated surfaces that enable freedom of movement. Synovial bursae tend to be located in your joints, like your knees, feet, and shoulders.

 Muscle bursae shoulder joint subacromial bursa synovial resized 600


There are also adventitious, or accidental, bursae. These occur in soft tissue over bony prominences, usually because of repeated pressure or shearing.

An example of an adventitious bursae is a bunion, which is a deformity of the big toe. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can sometimes force the big toe inward towards the other toes. The bursa at the metatarsophalangeal joint becomes swollen, but the biggest issue is the normal part of the head of the first metatarsal bone is tilting sideways and sticks out at its top. This creates a large bump or prominence.

 Muscle metatarsophalangeal bursa hallux big toe joint metatarsal resized 600

Subcutaneous bursae lie between the skin and a bony process, like the aforementioned olecranon of the elbow.

Muscle olecranon subcutaneous bursa elbow joint resized 600  


You've probably spent enough time on this blog to know what the suffix –itis means, so you won't be surprised when I say that bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa. When the bursae become inflamed, their gliding ability is lost, which can be painful. An inflamed bursa is usually the result of trauma, overuse, or infection. Even something as simple as lifting something heavy can bring it on.

The joints of the hips, elbows, and shoulders are normally the areas affected by bursitis, but it can occur anywhere (inflammation of the bursae in the knee is known as Washmaid's Knee).




Muscles, 3D muscles

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Zybright Guest Post: 5 Things To Know about the Heart and Blood Vessels

Zybright, Visible Body's sister company, is the maker of My Incredible Body, a best-selling anatomy app for kids and a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award Winner. We're giving them the floor for another guest blog post, because they're awesome and we adore them.

Take it away, Zybright!


If you have our app, all this content comes from the Circulation Tour section. If you don't, get the free trial! You can download it to your iPad/iPhoneAndroid, or Windows 8.1 device. 

5 things to know about the heart and blood vessels

1. Your heart is a hollow muscle that has four chambers filled with blood. Think of these chambers as rooms. When your heart beats, two of those chambers—the ventricles—squeeze, which shoots blood where it needs to go. Your right ventricle sends blood to the lungs to pump it full of oxygen, and your left ventricle sends that oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.

2. If your heart chambers are rooms, then your heart valves (highlighted below) are doors. They open to allow blood to go in and out, but shut to prevent it from backtracking.

My incredible body heart valves semilunar tricuspid mitral anatomy resized 600

Fun Fact: If the valves don't close completely, blood could leak backward. The heart would have to work even harder to make sure blood was getting to where it needed to go.

3. The atria (highlighted below) are temporary holding tanks for blood. Your left atrium holds the blood that's coming from your lungs, while your right atrium holds the blood that is returning from the rest of your body.

My incredible body heart atrium atria anatomy resized 600

4. Systemic veins and arteries are spread throughout your entire body and act like roadways for your blood. Systemic arteries send oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your organs and tissues, which gives them oxygen in order to function. Systemic veins take blood that has lost its oxygen back to the heart, where it will be sent to the lungs for a refuel.

Fun Fact: The aorta is the largest artery in your body and is roughly the size of a garden hose!

5. The pulmonary vessels (branching structures in the image below) in the lungs work a little differently than the systemic vessels—in that they work the opposite way! The pulmonary arteries carry blood that needs to be refueled with oxygen to the lungs, while the pulmonary veins carry freshly-fueled, oxygen-rich blood back to the heart.


My incredible body heart pulmonary arteries veins lungs anatomy resized 600

Fun Fact: Pulmonary comes from the Latin word pulmonarius, meaning "of the lungs." 


Did you and your kids enjoy these facts? Then keep busy with these free 30-minute activities!

Access the My Incredible Body 
Freebies Library

Zybright Guest Post: 5 Facts About The Brain and Nerves (for kids!)

Zybright, Visible Body's sister company, is the maker of My Incredible Body, an anatomy education app just for kids. To celebrate the fact that kids are out for summer, they've written a guest blog to keep them learning until September rolls around again. Take it away, Zybright!


School’s out! Want to keep kids learning? Here are 5 facts about the brain and nerves.

If you have our app, all this content comes from the Nervous System Tour section. If you don't, get the free trial! You can download it to your iPad/iPhone, Android, or Windows 8.1 device. 


Five facts to know about the brain and nerves.

1. The cerebrum is the largest part of your brain (I highlighted it in blue below). It helps you make decisions, talk, smell, taste, and remember. Fun fact: the machine Professor Xavier uses in X-men  to locate mutants is called “Cerebro,” which is a play on “cerebrum.”

Cerebrum brain nervous system resized 600

2. The cerebellum is a smaller part of the brain. If you’ve ever reached for a pen, it’s your cerebrum that moves your arm and hand. However, it’s your cerebellum that fine-tunes the muscle movement, closes your fingers over it on the first try, and moves it into position to begin writing with it. Fun fact: cerebellum means little brain.


3. All day and all night your brain sends and receives messages to and from your body about everything from breathing and digesting food to moving. Many messages pass through your brainstem (I highlighted it in blue) before they go through the nerves in the rest of your body.  Fun fact: messages can travel as fast as 268 mph!

Brain stem nerves messages nervous system resized 600

4. Some nerves control jobs that are happening all day without us thinking about it much (or at all). These autonomic nerves are in charge of jobs like keeping the heart beating and your stomach digesting!  Somatic nerves are in charge of voluntary tasks—things you tell your body to do, like smiling at a friend or jumping into a pool.


5. The spinal cord is often called the information superhighway of your body (Hey, guess what I did: it's highlighted in blue below). That’s because almost all the messages sent between your brain and your body travel though this cord, which is only about as thick as a finger. 

Spinal cord nerves nervous system resized 600

Did you and your kids enjoy these facts? Then keep busy with these free 30-minute activities!

Access the My Incredible Body
Freebies Library

Learn Muscle Anatomy: Muscles of Mastication

Learn Muscle Anatomy: Mastication

You know what I really enjoy? Eating.

Not just food itself, but the actual act of chewing something. Gum, steak tips, cake, one of those ginormous blueberry muffins from from the donut shop up the street—anything, really. I love working the muscles in my jaw in the act of mastication, or to reduce something to a pulp by crushing or kneading it with my teeth. There's something immensely satisfying about it.

Whenever you see a description of chewing or eating, it's always the jaw that's mentioned. While the jaw and your teeth are incredibly important in crushing food into a bolus, none of it would even happen—your mouth wouldn't even open—without the help of the muscles of mastication.


Deep Muscles of Mastication

I'm going to work from the inside out. The muscles of deep mastication are few, but powerful. There are only two of them: the deep masseter and the temporalis. These muscles, while "deep," are actually among the most "visible" of the mastication group, in that they aren't completely hidden by bone.


Deep masseter temporalis mastication muscles










Deep masseter

Zygomatic arch


Raises mandible against the maxillae with great force

Trigeminal nerve (V), mandibular branch (V3)


Temporal fossa and temporal fascia

Coronoid process and anterior ramus of the mandible

Elevates and retracts the mandible against the maxillae with great force

Trigeminal nerve (V), mandibular branch

Mandible elevation involves both muscles working to bring the mandible back up toward the maxillae. Remember, when you chew, it's only your jaw that moves; the maxillae remain fixed to the skull. The mandible is the only free-moving bone in the skull.

Mandible elevation temporalis deep masseter chewing mastication

Superficial Muscles of Mastication

The superficial muscles group is comprised of three muscles: the medial pterygoid, lateral pterygoid (superior and inferior heads), and superficial masseter.

Superficial mastication muscles lateral pterygoid head

The medial pterygoid and superficial masseter are pretty straightforward, but the lateral pterygoid is an interesting little thing. It is one muscle but originates in two different locations. There are other muscles in the body that have two different origins, such as the biceps brachii, but the lateral pterygoid is the only one in the head region.







Superficial masseter

Zygomatic bone

Ramus of the mandible

Raises the mandible against the maxillae with great force

Trigeminal nerve (V), mandibular branch (V3)

Medial pterygoid

Lateral pterygoid plate and the pyramidal process of the palatine

Ramus and angle of the mandible via a strong tendinous lamina

Assists the lateral pterygoid; draws the mandible forward

Trigeminal nerve (V), mandibular branch

Lateral pterygoid

Two heads: the superior from the sphenoid and infratemporal crest; the inferior from the lateral pterygoid plate

Condyle of the mandible and front margin of the articular disk of the temporomandibular articulation

Draws the mandibular condyle and articular disc forward

Trigeminal nerve (V), mandibular branch

Have you ever thrust your jaw out so your bottom teeth stick out in order to look like a bulldog? It's a face my youngest niece loves to make. Besides being hilarious on her little face, it's also a muscle action called mandible protraction, and all the superficial muscles of mastication are involved.

Mandible protraction superficial mastication muscles












Protraction (on the left) is the act of protrusion, or extending beyond the normal position. The opposing action is called retraction (on the right).


Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Fun fact: I have TMJ. Well, we all have TMJ—the temporomandibular joint, that is. TMJ (and TMD, interchangeably) has also become an umbrella term for jaw and muscle pain.

When I was in high school, I used to go through a pack of gum every day. I would chew and chew and chew and chew until, finally, my mastication muscles gave up the ghost and began exhibiting pretty awful pain, followed by extremely limited jaw movement (I couldn't open my mouth properly for a while). Soon after, the articular disc floated out from between the fossa and condyle, causing my jaw joint to "click." While the muscle pain has long since abated, the clicking and popping of my jaw continues today.

Temporomandibular joint pain tmj tmd mastication muscles articular disc


















Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is the term used to describe pain arising from the temporomandibular joint and mastication muscles. It's an incredibly common ailment—anywhere from 20% to 30% of the population has it—and not very well understood, because not one thing causes it. TMD can be categorized by symptom, cause, and/or how long one has had it, and it is treated in a variety of ways, ranging from relaxation techniques to surgery (in extreme cases).

My best advice is to ease up on excessive gum chewing.


Want to learn more?


Muscles, 3D muscles


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Anatomy and Physiology Vocab: Medical Suffixes

While anatomy & physiology courses tend to be all about biology, anatomy, and other body-related science, there's a smidgen of them dedicated to language. The words used in the medical world all have their specific meanings, and even broken down into their most basic components they still have meaning.

Suffixes are pretty amazing. They have the power to change the meaning of one word into something else entirely.

Dermatology suffix medical ap vocab 1

Bam. A whole new word, just by adding a little bit at the end. Like I said: amazing.

There are quite a few suffixes in the medical world and it can be a task to remember them all. To help you, I've got some of the most common ones right here!













Tumor; mass


To view


A record


Now that you've got the suffixes and their meanings down, let's put them to good use. Here are some common medical terms that use the preceding suffixes, in context:

- Fibromyalgia is a common ailment in which one suffers chronic, widespread pain.

- The most common surgery performed in the United States is appendectomy, or the removal of the appendix.

Appendix appendectomy colon large intestine digestive ap vocab

- Bronchitis is the inflammation of the mucous membranes of the bronchi.

- To determine certain diseases, a biopsy may be performed, in which tissue is removed for analysis.

- A mammogram is the image(s) obtained by mammography, in which breast tissue is scanned for the possible presence of cancer.

Download the A&P Vocab: Suffixes eBook!

Want more suffixes and context examples? Download our free A&P Vocab: Suffixes eBook! You'll get 25 examples and stunning images from our best-selling Anatomy & Physiology app!


New Call\u002Dto\u002DAction


Related posts

- Anatomy and Physiology: Anatomical Position and Directional Terms
- Anatomy and Physiology: Five Cool Facts about the Middle and Inner Ear
- Anatomy and Physiology: Seven Coolest Medical Stories of 2013

Anatomy and Physiology: Measuring the Human Heart

When your heart pounds, do you think of how hard your ventricles are contracting to push blood in and out of the heart? Do you think of the astonishing pressure your veins and arteries withstand when you are out of breath and your adrenaline is pumping? Probably not. I know I certainly don't. If my body's flooded with adrenaline and my heart is pounding, I'm either exercising or being chased by a lion; in either case, my mind is going to be focused on not dying rather than how hard my heart is working.

But since we have a golden opportunity here, let's focus on the heart. Enough about hypothetical lions and even more hypothetical exercising.

If you have Anatomy & Function, go to Browse Common Topics and choose Cardiac Output. Follow along!

What is a heartbeat?

It goes far beyond “that sound in your chest.” Systole and diastole are the normal, rhythmic contractions of the ventricles as they pump blood in and out of the heart. The actual beating sound is usually described as lub DUB. The lub occurs when the mitral and tricuspid valves close and push blood out of the heart via the semilunar valves (systole), and the DUB occurs when the semilunar valves close and blood fills the ventricles (diastole).

Heart Valves Semilunar Mitral tricuspid aortic pulmonary

The average number of heart beats per minute is 72.


What is blood pressure?

As blood moves through your body, it puts pressure on the walls of your veins and arteries, much the way soda does when sucked through a straw. Blood pressure is the amount of force put on your blood vessels, caused by the flow generated by the heart as it pumps and any resistance that blood encounters as it moves through the vessels.

Artery Capillary Vein Blood Pressure

The heart beats faster during times of stress, exercise, or, in my case, when I see pictures of Richard Armitage, resulting in blood being pumped in and out of the heart and through the vessels at an increased rate. In this state, your blood pressure is high.

Blood Pressure Arteries Veins Blood Vessels

Blood pressure in a resting state is usually around 120 (systolic) over 70 (diastolic).


So, let's recap: Blood is pumped in and out of the heart and through the arteries and veins, the force exerted by the blood on the vessel walls is called blood pressure, and Richard Armitage makes my ticker go lub DUB, lub DUB, shalamalama ding dong.

Excellent. Moving on.


Measuring Cardiac Output

Now, the average amount of blood pumped per heartbeat is 70 mL. This is called stroke volume.

Cardiac output, on the other hand, is the volume of blood that each ventricle pumps out every minute. How much blood is that? Well, let's find out!

To find cardiac output, we'll first need to determine how many times your heart beats per minute. To do this, place your hand over your heart and count the beats for exactly one minute. Ready? Go.

Cardiac Output Heart Blood Volume

Okay, at the end of a minute, my heart beat 74 times. I will take that and multiply it by the stroke volume, which is 70 mL.

My cardiac output is 5180 mL/minute, or 5.18 L. How about you? What did you get? For fun, do 30 jumping jacks and then measure your cardiac output. How much of a difference do you see between your resting state result and your jumping jacks result?


Learn More

Want to learn more about the various ways to learn and understand human anatomy? Then check out Anatomy & Physiology by Visible Body. It will change the way you learn A&P forever!

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Learn Muscle Anatomy: Knee Joint Group

As I sit here, typing, I've got my legs crossed. My chiropractor would probably throw something at my head if he knew. Oh well. Is YOLO still a thing? Because YOLO.

Where my legs are crossed (at the knees) there are several muscles of the lower limbs in play. And of course there are—do you know how many anatomical structures it takes to move your knee? Probably more than you think. 

Want to follow along? I'm using the new Muscle Premium for iOS—we added bursae! (Hey, all you PC, Mac, and Android users, not to worry. Your bursae are coming soon.)

Knee joint bursae muscles patella

Muscles of the Knee Joint

The muscles of the knee joint are incredibly important. They move when you do—when you walk, run, dance, stretch your legs, or make any action you can think of that involves bending the knees.

There are two muscle groups that act on the knee joint: the quadriceps femoris and the posterior compartment of the proximal leg. In addition to these groups are the plantaris, articulus genu, semiteninosus, semimembranosus, and popliteus.

Knee joint muscle group quadriceps femoris resized 600

Let's take a look at the quadriceps femoris group.


Quadriceps Femoris Group




Rectus femoris

Originates on the anterior inferior iliac spine and a groove superior to the acetabulum; inserts on the common tendon of the quadriceps enclosing the patella, and on the tibial tuberosity

Extension of the leg at the knee joint; flexion of the hip

Vastus lateralis

Originates on the greater trochanter and upper lateral surface of the linea aspera; inserts on the patella via the quadriceps tendon, and the tibial tuberosity via the patellar ligament

Extension of the leg at the knee joint

Vastus intermedius

Originates on the upper two-thirds of the anterior and lateral surfaces of the femur; inserts on the common tendon of the quadriceps enclosing the patella, and on the tibial tuberosity

Extension of the leg at the knee joint

Vastus medialis

Originates on the intertrochanteric line and medial lip of the linea aspera; inserts on the common tendon of the quadriceps enclosing the patella, and on the tibial tuberosity

Extension of the leg at the knee joint



The body employs a bunch of different anatomical structures to keep friction down, and bursae are one of them.

Bursae bone muscle joint resized 600

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that can be found anywhere skin rubs over bone, and where a muscle, ligament, or tendon glides directly over the periosteum (outer surface) of a bone. The synovial fluid in the bursae linings provides lubrication, enabling freedom of movement between contiguous connective tissue surfaces.

The bursae found in the knee include the superficial prepatellar, superficial and deep infrapatellar, medial and lateral gastrocnemius, suprapatellar, and quite a few more.


Knee Extension

So, I'm still sitting with one knee crossed over the other and somewhere my chiropractor just became enraged without knowing why. If I stand, however, I will be straightening, or extending, my knees.

Extension increases the angle between body parts. Flexion decreases the angle. Stand up for a moment and keep your legs perfectly straight—this is extension. The angle is around 180 degrees. Now, stand on one leg and lift the other until it's bent at the knee—this is flexion.

Knee flexion extension movement muscle action

And now I'm going to give my chiropractor's heart a rest and put both my feet on the floor.


Want to learn more?


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