"Belly button" redirects here. For other uses, see Belly button (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Navel (disambiguation).

The human navel is a scar left after the umbilical cord detaches.
Precursor Umbilical cord
Ductus venosus
Artery Umbilical artery
Vein Umbilical vein
Latin Umbilicus
MeSH D014472
TA A01.2.04.005
FMA 61584

Anatomical terminology

The navel (clinically known as the umbilicus, colloquially known as the belly button, or tummy button) is a scar on the abdomen at the attachment site of the umbilical cord. All placental mammals have a navel, and it is quite conspicuous in humans.[1]


The navel is the centre of the circle in this drawing of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci
Abdominal regions are used for example to localize pain.

The umbilicus is used to visually separate the abdomen into quadrants.[2]

The umbilicus is a prominent mark on the abdomen, with its position being relatively consistent among humans. The skin around the waist at the level of the umbilicus is supplied by the tenth thoracic spinal nerve (T10 dermatome). The umbilicus itself typically lies at a vertical level corresponding to the junction between the L3 and L4 vertebrae,[3] with a normal variation among people between the L3 and L5 vertebrae.[4]

Parts of the navel include the "umbilical tip", which is the center of the navel often described as a button shape. The "periumbilical skin" surrounds it.[5] Navels consisting of the umbilical tip protruding past the periumbilical skin have been nicknamed "outies". Outies are often mistaken for umbilical hernias, but are actually a completely different shape with no health concern, unlike an umbilical hernia. The navel (specifically abdominal wall) would be considered an umbilical hernia if the protrusion was 5 centimeters or more. The total diameter of an umbilical hernia is usually 10 centimeters.[5]

While the shape of the human navel may be affected by long term changes to diet and exercise, unexpected change in shape may be the result of ascites.[6]

Clinical significance


In addition to change in shape being a possible side effect from ascites and umbilical hernias, the navel can be involved in umbilical sinus or fistula, which in rare cases can lead to menstrual or fecal discharge from the navel. Menstrual discharge from the umbilicus is associated with umbilical endometriosis, a rare disorder.[7][8]

Other disorders


To minimize scarring, the navel is a recommended site of incision for various surgeries, including transgastric appendicectomy,[9] gall bladder surgery,[10] and the umbilicoplasty[11] procedure itself.


The Heimlich Maneuver, a method of dislodging an object stuck in the throat, is performed just above the navel.[12]

Society and culture

The public exposure of the male and female midriff and bare navel has been taboo at times in Western cultures, being considered immodest or indecent. It was banned in some jurisdictions, however the community perceptions have changed and exposure of female midriff and navel is more accepted today and in some societies or contexts, it is both fashionable and common, though not without its critics.[13]

While the West was relatively resistant to midriff-baring clothing until the 1980s, it has long been a fashion with Indian women.[14] The Japanese have long had a special regard for the navel. During the early Jomon period in northern Japan, three small balls indicating the breasts and navel were pasted onto flat clay objects to represent the female body. The navel was exaggerated in size, informed by the belief that the navel symbolizes the center of where life begins.[15]

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Human navel.
Look up umbilicus in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  1. Kruszelnicki, Karl. "Bellybutton Facts". ABC Online.
  2. "Anatomy & Physiology". Openstax college at Connexions. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  3. Ellis, Harold (2006). Clinical Anatomy: Applied Anatomy for Students and Junior Doctors. New York: Wiley. ISBN 1-4051-3804-1.
  4. O'Rahilly, Ronan; Müller, Fabiola; Carpenter, Stanley; Swenson, Rand (2004). "Abdominal walls". Basic Human Anatomy: A Regional Study of Human Structure. Dartmouth Medical School.
  5. 1 2 Meier, Donald E.; OlaOlorun, David A.; Omodele, Rachael A.; Nkor, Sunday K.; Tarpley, John L. (2001). "Incidence of Umbilical Hernia in African Children: Redefinition of 'Normal' and Reevaluation of Indications for Repair". World Journal of Surgery. 25 (5): 645–8. doi:10.1007/s002680020072. PMID 11369993.
  6. Herrine, Steven K. "Ascites". Merck.
  7. Bagade, Pallavi V; Guirguis, Mamdouh M (2009). "Menstruating from the umbilicus as a rare case of primary umbilical endometriosis: a case report". Journal of Medical Case Reports. 3: 9326. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-3-9326. PMC 2803849Freely accessible. PMID 20062755.
  8. D'Alessandro, Donna M. (June 2, 2008). "What's Wrong With His Belly Button?".
  9. Kaehler, G.; Schoenberg, M. B.; Kienle, P.; Post, S.; Magdeburg, R. (2013). "Transgastric appendicectomy". British Journal of Surgery. 100 (7): 911–5. doi:10.1002/bjs.9115. PMID 23575528. Lay summary Medical News Today (April 12, 2013).
  10. "SRMC Surgeon Offers Gallbladder Removal through Belly Button Incision with da Vinci® System" (Press release). Southeastern Health. December 9, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  11. Bruekers, Sven E.; van der Lei, Berend; Tan, Tik L.; Luijendijk, Roland W.; Stevens, Hieronymus P. J. D. (2009). "'Scarless' Umbilicoplasty". Annals of Plastic Surgery. 63 (1): 15–20. doi:10.1097/SAP.0b013e3181877b60. PMID 19546666.
  12. MedlinePlus Encyclopedia Abdominal thrusts
  13. "New code may reveal navel". Mohave Daily Miner. 24 March 1985. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  14. Banerjee, Mukulika & Miller, Daniel (2003) The Sari. Oxford; New York: Berg ISBN 1-85973-732-3
  15. Naumann, Nelly (2000). "First Indications of Symbolic Expression". Japanese Prehistory: The Material and Spiritual Culture of the Jōmon Period. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 114–5. ISBN 978-3-447-04329-8.

Further reading

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