Abdominal Quadrants

Abdominal Quadrants

The 4 Abdominal Quadrants

Abdominal Quadrants

Abdominal Quadrants

Abdominal quadrants are a way of sectioning internal organs into four regions for diagnostic, and descriptive purposes.

Standard terms are used in medicine, so that doctors can communicate, interpret, and diagnose more effectively, and quickly.

Anatomical reference planes are used to locate structures in the body for this purpose.  Dividing the abdomen into quadrants, or the 4-region scheme, makes it easier to describe where pain is originating, or where surgery is to be performed, and is used on all medical records of evaluation.  It is like an inset to a map, helping you to locate what is there.

The abdomen

The abdomen is the part of the body structure, which lies between the thorax, and the pelvis.  It encompasses the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, pancreas, and other vital organs.

Abdominal quadrants division

The abdominal quadrants are divided by the median sagittal plane into left and right, and by the umbilicas, or belly button for upper or lower.

The four abdominal quadrants are:

•    right upper quadrant (RUQ)
•    upper quadrant (LUQ)
•    right lower quadrant (RLQ)
•    left lower quadrant (LLQ)

Because the abdominal quadrants system describes areas of the body for descriptive medical purposes, it is important to associate the various organs that are equated with the abdominal quadrants.

Right Upper Quadrant Organs (RUQ)

•    liver
•    gall bladder with biliary tree
•    main bile duct
•    upper part of the ascending colon
•    right part of the transverse colon
•    stomach
•    duodenum
•    right kidney
•    ureter or adrenal gland
•    right lung membrane (pleura)
•    lower right ribs
•    abdominal muscles
•    skin or spinal nerves

Left Upper Quadrant Organs (LUQ)

•    pancreas
•    stomach
•    left part of transverse colon
•    upper part of the descending colon
•    second part of the small intestine (jejunum)
•    right kidney
•    ureter or adrenal gland
•    spleen
•    heart
•    left lung membrane
•    lower left ribs
•    abdominal muscles
•    skin or spinal nerves

Right Lower Quadrant Organs (RLQ)

•    lower part of ascending colon
•    last part of the small intestine (ileum)
•    appendix
•    right ureter
•    right spermatic cord
•    right ovary and uterine tube
•    abdominal muscles
•    skin or spinal nerves

Left Lower Quadrant Organs (LLQ)

•    lower part of the descending colon
•    sigmoid colon – large intestine, closest to the rectum
•    small intestine
•    left ureter – tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder
•    left spermatic cord
•    left ovary and uterine tube
•    abdominal muscles
•    skin or spinal nerves

Abdominal muscles

There are six types of abdominal muscles in the abdomen.  The abdominal muscles are in all four abdominal quadrants of the abdomen and help to support the body structure.  They provide movement, support the trunk or core of our bodies, and also assist in breathing.  The six muscles are the transverse abdominal, internal obliques, external obliques, and rectus abdominis.
The transverse abdominal is the deepest muscle, extending between the ribs, and the hips.  It wraps around the center of the trunk.  The internal obliques run from various places around the front of the hips, to the lower ribs.  The external obliques are a pair of abdominal muscles that help you to flex your trunk forward.  They support and cover the abdominal organs.  They assist you in exhaling, and enable you to flex your spine laterally.  The rectus abdominis extends from the front of the ribs to the front of the pelvic region.  Its main function is to flex the spine forward.

Examination of abdominal quadrants

When the doctor examines your abdominal quadrants, he or she will be looking for masses, scars, sinuses, lesions, bulging flanks, jaundice, or abdominal distension.  Just by looking on the outside, and touching parts of the abdomen, the doctor is able to tell which organ might be causing pain, or illness.  This is an important part of the diagnostic procedure, before tests are required, and possibly subsequent surgery.

Abdominal quadrants and imaging references

Anatomical terms and reference planes are used for imaging references also.  When a CAT scan or MRI is performed, radiologists use abdominal quadrants and anatomical plane terms in order to direct the doctor or surgeon of the location in which abnormalities may be seen on the x-ray or scan imagery.  Forensic labs also use this terminology to record damage or mutilation to bodies, in order to detect a possible reason for death.

Importance of abdominal quadrants

The importance of abdominal quadrants is to have a consistent means of interpreting data, using the universal descriptive and diagnostic information of the abdominal quadrants.  It is an easy system to identify and locate where a pain, or abnormality may be occurring, and to narrow which organ may be involved in the abnormality before other diagnostic tests.  Abdominal quadrants are in essence a road map, or grid of your internal organs.

Abdominal Quadrants and Possible Causes of Abdominal Pains

Abdominal Quadrants

Abdominal Quadrants

The Abdominal Quadrants and Pain

The abdomen area, or more commonly called belly, includes several organs between the chest and the pelvic area. This area is divided into four parts called the abdominal quadrants. Learning about these parts is beneficial not only for medical people but for ordinary people as well.

Importance of the Abdominal Quadrants

Why is it important to learn about the four abdominal quadrants? Different organs are included on these quadrants. Pain felt in specific parts of the quadrants may mean different things. Ordinary people may benefit from this because if they feel any pain on their abdomen, they can be more specific in describing where the pain is starting. In turn, this will be helpful to medical people because they will be able to take care of the specific problem felt by the patient. You don’t need to be a medical expert to know the four areas included in the abdominal quadrants. The illustration on this page shows 4 abdominal quadrants. You can use your belly button or navel as a mark to separate these four areas. Drawing two lines intersecting the belly button will give you the four regions.

 The 4 abdominal quadrants

The four regions of the quadrants are known as the left lower quadrant, left upper quadrant, right upper quadrant and right lower quadrant.

Abdominal pain is the most common pain that human feels. This may only be a minor condition and can go away almost immediately. It may also be caused by a serious health condition. That’s why it’s important to learn about the quadrants as pain felt on each of these areas usually mean something. For upper right abdominal pain, this may be caused by gallstones and viral infection. Lower left abdominal pain may be caused by ectopic pregnancy, ulcerative colitis and dysentery. Lower right abdominal pain may be caused by kidney stones, ulcer, heart attack and poisoning. Upper left abdominal pain may be caused by pancreatitis and hiatal hernia.

If you feel any discomfort or pain on any of the abdominal quadrants, make sure to consult your doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and medication.

 Abdominal Quadrants

Four Regions of Abdominal Quadrants and their Organs

Abdominal Quadrants

Abdominal Quadrants



The abdomen is the area between the chest and pelvis. It’s commonly known as the belly.

This area contains different organs including the digestive organs as well as the spleen and kidneys.

Since it contains several organs, the abdomen is divided into four regions also known as abdominal quadrants.

Knowing these abdominal quadrants is important because it can help the doctors determine the cause of abdominal problems faster and easier.

These four regions of the abdominal area each include specific organs. If pain is felt in any of those parts, the doctor will immediately have an idea on which organ to focus on for the checking and treatment.

These four regions have their names and are more popular with their initials. These are the right upper quadrant or RUQ, left upper quadrant or LUQ, right lower quadrant or RLQ and left lower quadrant or LLQ.




Determining these regions can be done by putting a vertical line crossing the navel and a horizontal line also crossing the navel. After putting these two lines, you’ll have intersecting lines with four areas on upper right, upper left, lower left and lower right which are the abdominal quadrants.

Right upper quadrant

The RUQ organs include the section of transverse and ascending colon, hepatic flexure of colon, duodenum, right adrenal gland, liver, upper lobe of right kidney, head of the pancreas and gallbladder.

Left upper quadrant

The LUQ organs include spleen, left adrenal gland, pancreas, upper lobe of left kidney, section of transverse and descending colon, lower part of liver, stomach and splenic flexure of colon.

Right lower quadrant

The RLQ organs include appendix, lower lobe of right kidney, cecum, right ureter, right fallopian tube and ovary for female, right spermatic cord and section of ascending colon.

Left lower quadrant

Lastly, the LLQ organs include left fallopian tube and ovary for female, left spermatic cord for male, section of descending colon, left ureter, lower lobe of left kidney and sigmoid colon.


If you feel pain on your abdomen, you’ll now know how to determine which part of the abdominal quadrants is hurting when the doctor asks you so. This will help greatly in getting to the main cause of pain.

Left lower quadrantWikipedia: The left lower quadrant (abbreviated LLQ) of the human abdomen is the area left of the midline and below the umbilicus.