Clinical Anatomical Terminology

General Information

CAT Committee Activities and Rules of Operation

Links to Anatomical Terminology Web Sites

Articles on Anatomical Terminology

Joint Initiative to Create Open Definitions for Anatomical Terms

General Information

The Clinical Anatomical Terminology Committee addresses issues that prevent clarity of discussion among students, faculty and clinicians; specifically, usage of multiple terms to describe the same anatomical structures and concepts.   Terminologia Anatomica terms are often supplanted by language representing clinical vernacular or colloquial parlance that may cloud understanding of the structures to which they refer. Recognizing that practical usage is as important as conventional taxonomy, the committee seeks to unite understanding of these divergences by providing opportunities for comparison of terms and contrast of specifics regarding various forms of usage. First, an open access wikified website (ATI) has been developed (Paul Gobee, LUMC) on which multiple terms for a single structure are listed, with Google links to related images and text resources. Clinical terms will be collected, vetted, and added to ATI and Clinical Anatomical Terminology (Tom Gest) by an AACA-managed body of anatomists and clinicians. Second, opportunities for clarifying discussions are available through brief reports combining both clinical and anatomical viewpoints in a single review of a particular anatomical structure or concept. These reviews, written in a common format to promote consistency and publication, will enrich the understanding of clinicians, anatomists and students. We provide guidelines for participation, an introduction to the website, and an example of an annotated review. Students and faculty from both academic and clinical settings are encouraged to contribute to both efforts. Enhanced communication among professionals from many disciplines will serve to clarify anatomical terminology used in classroom and clinical settings.

CAT Committee Activities and Rules of Operation

Appointments and elections

The Committee shall consist of ten (10) members, each serving a three (3) year term. The Clinical Councilor is an ex officio member who shall serve as Vice Chair of the Committee with all rights and privileges. The President-Elect will appoint two (2) members and the Active Membership will elect one (1) member, all for 3-year terms. The CAT Committee Chair will be appointed by the AACA President. A Leader for each subcommittee will be appointed by the CAT Committee Chair.

Work of the CAT Committee


Upon appointment or election to the CAT Committee, members must join a subcommittee whose work they will carry out during their three-year term. Membership on a particular subcommittee must be approved by the CAT Committee Chair and Subcommittee Leaders.

1. Clinical Anatomical Term Management subcommittee (4 or 5 members): organizes the collection, addition, vetting and editing of terms on the (ATI) website (, and transfer of such to the Clinical Anatomical Terminology website ( hosted by Dr. Tom Gest. This subcommittee maintains the CAT presence and web interface on the AACA website. Both clinicians and anatomists are needed to do this work.

2. Writing Consortium subcommittee (4 or 5 members): generates ideas for articles, recruits authors, and pre-edits manuscripts in preparation for submission. Both clinicians and anatomists are needed to author manuscripts. Subcommittee members may or may not be clinicians. 

3. Funding subcommittee (2-3 members): endeavors to find funding to support the continued development of website resources and promote the mission of the CAT Committee around the nation and world. The CAT Committee chair will appoint a minimum of two (2) committee members to carry out this work.

4. Annual Open Meeting subcommittee (2-3 members): organizes the Annual Open Committee meeting by communicating with the Meeting Oversight and Planning Committee to select a time and place; develops the meeting agenda, and runs the election for at-large CAT Committee members. The CAT Committee chair will appoint a minimum of two (2) committee members to carry out this work.

5. Symposium subcommittee (5 members): Biennially, or at the request of the AACA Program Secretary, the CAT Committee will plan and deliver a CAT Committee Symposium at the annual AACA meeting. The CAT Committee Chair and Subcommittee Leaders, along with two (2) committee members appointed by the Chair and Leaders, will constitute a five (5)-member Ad Hoc Symposium Subcommittee.

Advisory Group:

The CAT Committee will select an Advisory Group of professionals comprised of both AACA active members and non-members. These individuals will be called upon to collect and review terms for the CAT websites, identify authors for CAT manuscripts, and support and promote the mission of the CAT Committee.

Monthly meetings:

In order to coordinate and conduct the activities of the Clinical Anatomical Terminology Committee effectively, all committee members are expected to commit to and attend monthly committee meetings via teleconference. 

Clinical Councilor, ex officio

Robert Spinner, ex officio, Vice Chair

Presidential Appointees

2014-2017:  Ian Whitmore (
2014-2017:  O. Paul Gobee (
2015-2018: Tom Gest, Co-Chair (
2015-2018: John Hansen (
2016-2019: Sherry Downie
2016-2019: Brad Martin (LLU)


2014 - 2017: Alan Richards
2015-2018: Evan Goldman, Co-chair (
2016-2019: Chelsea Lohman (

Links to Anatomical Terminology Web Sites

Two members of the committee have highly informative web sites for anatomical terminology to assist people with their queries.

Tom Gest at Texas Tech University has a searchable list of the current Terminologia Anatomica, accessible to all at this URL:

Paul Gobee has created new site at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands at this URL:

A site that contains interesting information on anatomical and medical eponyms may be found at

Articles on Anatomical Terminology

A collection of recent articles that address issues in anatomical terminology can be found at the CAT References page. We will be expanding this collection of references in order to provide a useful listing of articles that pertain to anatomical terminology and clinical nomenclature.

Joint Initiative to Create Open Definitions for Anatomical Terms

Click here to view the document.