Is the umbilicus truly midline? Clinical and medicolegal implications

Rod J. Rohrich, Evan S. Sorokin, Spencer A. Brown, Diane L. Gibby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


A common misconception is that the umbilicus is a midline structure. To date, an anatomical survey examining whether the umbilicus is located at the midline has not been reported. This study measured the position of the umbilicus among 136 subjects, in two separate experiments. The results demonstrated that the umbilicus was not at the midline for nearly 100 percent of subjects and was more than 2 percent from the midline for more than 50 percent of subjects. This finding is of great importance for patient counseling in preoperative and postoperative settings. Because the discerning eye has repeatedly been demonstrated to be able to detect smaller asymmetries, these findings are significant and should be discussed with patients undergoing cosmetic abdominoplasty or reconstructive procedures, for preoperative informed consent. Education and preoperative demonstration can help prevent medicolegal ramifications. The umbilicus is rarely midline and, when critically analyzed, is located lateral to the midline axis more often than not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-263
Number of pages5
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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