Distal refers to sites located away from a specific area, most often the center of the body. In medicine, it refers to parts of the body further away from the center. For example, the hand is distal to the shoulder. The thumb is distal to the wrist.
Distal is the opposite of proximal. Distal refers to distance, while proximal indicates proximity.
Taber's Medical Dictionary Online website.
Last reviewed on: 2/28/2019
Reviewed by: Alireza Minagar, MD, MBA, Professor, Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.