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For other uses, see Navel (disambiguation).
"Belly button" redirects here. For other uses, see Belly button (disambiguation).
The human navel is a scar left after the umbilical cord detaches.
Latin Umbilicus
Precursor Umbilical cord
Ductus venosus[citation needed]
Umbilical artery
Umbilical vein
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[1] on the abdomen at the attachment site of the umbilical cord. All placental mammals have a navel, and it is quite conspicuous in humans.[2] Other animals' navels tend to be smoother and flatter, often nothing more than a thin line, and are often obscured by fur.[3][unreliable medical source?]


The navel is the centre of the circle in this drawing of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

The umbilicus is used to visually separate the abdomen into quadrants.[citation needed] The navel is the center of the circle enclosing the spread-eagle figure in Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man drawing. The navel is rarely the focus in contemporary art and literature.[4][unreliable medical source?]

The umbilicus is a prominent mark on the abdomen, with its position being relatively consistent amongst 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,[5] with a normal variation among people between the L3 and L5 vertebrae.[6]

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.[7]

Clinical significance[edit]


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.[8][9]

Other disorders[edit]

  • Omphalitis, inflammatory condition of umbilicus, usually infected by gram positive bacteria.


To minimize scarring, the navel is a recommended site of incision for various surgeries, including transgastric appendicectomy,[10] gall bladder surgery,[11] and the umbilicoplasty[12] procedure itself.

Society and culture[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Ins and outs of a beautiful belly button; As Katie Holmes shocks navel-gazers. (30 June 2011).
  2. ^ Important Facts About Navel. (23 April 2011).
  3. ^ The Ins and Outs of Belly Buttons. (27 May 2009).
  4. ^ REGINA HACKETT (30 May 2002). "Dunning's examination of torsos is a truly navel experience". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Ellis, Harold (2006). Clinical Anatomy: Applied Anatomy for Students and Junior Doctors. New York: Wiley. ISBN 1-4051-3804-1. [1]
  6. ^ Basic Human Anatomy – O'Rahilly, Müller, Carpenter & Swenson – Chapter 25: Abdominal walls. Dartmouth Medical School. Retrieved November 2010
  7. ^
  8. ^ 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 (1): 9326. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-3-9326. ISSN 1752-1947. 
  9. ^, retrieved 2014-06-02  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Scarless Surgery Through The Navel Feasible Alternative For Appendicitis". Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "SRMC Surgeon Offers Gallbladder Removal through Belly Button Incision with da Vinci® System". Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  12. ^ ""Scarless" umbilicoplasty: a new umbilicoplasty technique and a review of the English language literature.". Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  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. ^ Nelly Naumann, Japanese prehistory: the material and spiritual culture of the Jōmon period. Google Books.