Body Cavities

The human body is divided into two portions: the axial and the appendicular. The axial portion includes the head, neck, and trunk while the appendicular portion includes the upper and lower limbs. Body cavities compartmentalize the internal body environment and are lined by membranes. They contain multiple organs within each cavity.

Image 1: Body Cavities

1. Dorsal Cavity – protects organs of the nervous system and has two subdivisions:

Cranial cavity – encloses the brain Spinal cavity (also termed vertebral cavity) - encloses the vertebral column and the spinal cord.

2. Ventral Cavity – contains subdivisions of the upper and lower trunk:

Thoracic cavity – surrounded by the ribs and chest muscles. Subdivided into: Mediastinum –contains the pericardial cavity Pericardial cavity – contains the heart, trachea, and esophagus. Pleural cavities – contains the lungs. Abdominopelvic cavity – from the diaphragm to the lower floor of the pelvis. Contains two subdivisions: Abdominal cavity – includes the liver, stomach, spleen, kidneys, and intestines. Pelvic cavity – includes the bladder and reproductive organs.




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Membranes of Body Cavities

The walls of the ventral body cavity and outer covering of its organs contain a thin covering called the serosa (also termed serous membrane).

Serous Fluid: Between the serous membranes is a thin layer of fluid called serous fluid that acts as a lubricant, allowing organs to move within the cavity without causing friction. Serous fluid is secreted by both membranes. (In Image 2 where the air space is labeled is where serous fluid can be found).

Naming of Serous Membranes: The naming of these membranes is done according to the cavity and organ they associate with. An example is the parietal pericardium which lines the pericardial cavity.

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(See Image 2)

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Image 2: Example of Pericardial Body Cavity Membrane

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Check for understanding: -What is the purpose of serous fluid and where is it found? Answer

-The serosa that lines the body cavity wall is called the _______ serosa while the membrane lining the organs is the ________ serosa. Answer