Difference Between Distal and Proximal

Proximal vs Distal

Proximal and distal are terms that are used to indicate distances from a standard point of reference. These are terms that are mostly used in the medical world and not used commonly in daily conversation. Proximal is the opposite of distal. This article takes a closer look at proximal and distal to come up with their differences.


The word proximal means towards the beginning or one that is nearer between two items. If we say that shoulder of an individual is proximal to his elbow, it simply means that the shoulder is close to the elbow. In anatomy, proximal is always used to indicate the part that is situated closest to the point of attachment. Even if you find it difficult to remember the meaning of proximal, you can easily relate it with proximity that means nearness or closeness.


In anatomical terms, distal is a point that is located farthest or far away from a standard point of reference. When a doctor uses the term distal to refer to a point in reference to a wound on the arm of his patient, he is referring to a point on the arm closer to the fingers past the wound. When he is talking about blood vessels, distal ones are those that are farthest from the heart.

Proximal vs Distal

• Proximal and distal are terms used to refer to locations in the body of an individual or an animal in terms of a standard point of reference.

• Proximal means near or close to and distal means away or farther from the point of reference.

• You can think of distal as being related to distant, whereas you can think of proximal as being in proximity of something.

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  • tommy walsh

    Awsome explanation. THANK YOU.