Right bone vs. Left bone

Updated | Posted
by Ciale Ciale Member

UGH my brain is melting. I've been studying for my anatomy exam like crazy and I still can't wrap my brain around the left bone vs. the right bone. Does anyone have an easy neat tricks to remember the difference?

Specifically: Clavicles, scapulae, tibia, fibula, ulna, radius

athena55, BSN, RN

Specializes in critical care: trauma/oncology/burns. Has 38 years experience. 987 Posts


I realize it has been a while since I was in nursing school....But unsure what you mean regarding right bone vs. left bone?


284 Posts

Hmm...maybe I didn't word that right. The exam is going to have a bunch of bones around the room and we have to go around and identify them and label their views (anterior, posterior, medial, lateral..) and identify what side of the body they're on. ie RIGHT fibula or the LEFT fibula?

You smell what I'm steppin' in?



44 Posts

Rules for Left and Right Bones

  1. Humerus - hold the bone so that the capitulum and trochlea face YOU (anterior)
    • If the head faces left - it is a left humerus
  2. Ulna - face the trochlear notch away from you (U-shaped process) and look at the olecranon
    • Ask yourself - on what side is the radial notch?
    • If it is on the right - it is a right ulna
  3. Radius - orient the bone with the round head UP and the distal end DOWN
    • Look at "bumps" at the distal end
    • Look for the styloid process at the distal end
    • If it is on the right side - it is a right radius
  4. Scapula - hold the bone with the spine facing YOU and the apex facing DOWN
    • If the acromion faces left - it is a left scapula
    • NOTE: the corocoid process is spelled with a "c" and so is "scapula"
  5. Femur - the head must face IN and the lesser trochanter must be on the BACK side of the bone
    • So hold the bone so that the head is on top and the trochanters are on the BACK surface of the bone
    • If the head faces left - it is a left femur
  6. Tibia - hold the bone so that the intercondylar eminence is towards the top and you are looking at the tibial tuberosity
    • If the medial malleolus on the distal end is on the left side - it is a left tibia
  7. Clavicle - a. point the flat sternal end toward the midline
    • b. the clavicle bulges OUT then IN
    • c. the conoid tubercle must point DOWN

Telling the Types of Vertebrae Apart

  • Cervical - three holes, forked spinous process
  • Thoracic - one hole, long, thin spinous process
  • Lumbar - one hole, processes are thick and large
  • Atlas - looks very different, almost like a circle
  • Axis - look for the "dens" near the body

Corocoid - "c" in scapula
Coronoid - "n" in ulna (or mandible)
Conoid - is the clavicle



17 Posts

jonjon - Thanks for posting, very helpful


marydee, CNA

Has 3 years experience. 20 Posts

Yes, thanks! ? A&P is a tough one!!