Human navel
PrecursorUmbilical cord
Ductus venosus
ArteryUmbilical artery
VeinUmbilical vein
Anatomical terminology

The navel (clinically known as the umbilicus; pl.: umbilici or umbilicuses; commonly known as the belly button or tummy button) is a protruding, flat, or hollowed area on the abdomen at the attachment site of the umbilical cord.[1] All placental mammals have a navel, although it is generally more conspicuous in humans.


See also: Umbilical vein and Umbilical artery

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.[2]

The umbilicus is a prominent scar 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 adult navel include the "umbilical cord remnant" or "umbilical tip", which is the often protruding scar left by the detachment of the umbilical cord. This is located in the center of the navel, sometimes described as the belly button. Around the cord remnant is the "umbilical collar", formed by the dense fibrous umbilical ring. Surrounding the umbilical collar is the periumbilical skin. Directly behind the navel is a thick fibrous cord formed from the umbilical cord, called the urachus, which originates from the bladder.[5]

The belly button is unique to each individual due to it being a scar, and various general forms have been classified by medical practitioners.[6][7][further explanation needed]

Clinical significance

The navel of an adult male a few days after a laparoscopic procedure to remove the appendix.
The navel of an adult male a few days after a laparoscopic procedure to remove the appendix.


Outies are sometimes mistaken for umbilical hernias; however, they are 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 were 5 centimeters or more. The diameter of an umbilical hernia is usually 1/2-inch or more.[9] Navels that are concave are nicknamed "innies".[10] 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.[11]

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 a rare disorder associated with umbilical endometriosis.[12][13]

Other disorders


To minimize scarring, the navel is a recommended site of incision for various surgeries, including transgastric appendicectomy,[16] gall bladder surgery,[17] and the umbilicoplasty[18] procedure itself.

Fashion, society and culture

Further information: Cultural views on the navel

The public exposure of the male and female midriff and bare navel was considered taboo at times in the past in Western cultures, being considered immodest or indecent. Female navel exposure was banned in some jurisdictions, but community perceptions have changed to this now being acceptable.[19] The crop top is a shirt that often exposes the belly button and has become more common among young people.[20] Exposure of the male navel has rarely been stigmatised and has become particularly popular in recent years, due to the strong resurgence of the male crop top and male navel piercing.[21] The navel and midriff are often also displayed in bikinis, or when low-rise pants are worn.

While the West was relatively resistant to navel-baring clothing until the 1980s, it has long been a fashion with Indian women,[22] often displayed with saris or lehengas.

The Japanese have long had a special regard for the navel. During the early Jōmon 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 symbolized the center where life began.[23]

In Arabic-Levantine culture, belly dancing is a popular art form that consists of dance movements focused on the torso and navel.[24]

Buddhism and Hinduism refer to the chakra of the navel as the manipura. In qigong, the navel is seen as the main energy centre, or dantian. In Hinduism, the Kundalini energy is sometimes described as being located at the navel.

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of NAVEL". Merriam-Webster. 24 November 2023.
  2. ^ "Anatomy & Physiology". Openstax college at Connexions. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  3. ^ Ellis, Harold (2006). Clinical Anatomy: Applied Anatomy for Students and Junior Doctors. New York: Wiley. ISBN 1-4051-3804-1.[page needed]
  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. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  5. ^ Khati, Nadia J.; Enquist, Erik G.; Javitt, Marcia C. (1998). "Imaging of the Umbilicus and Periumbilical Region". Radiographics. 18 (2): 413–4. doi:10.1148/radiographics.18.2.9536487. PMID 9536487.
  6. ^ Shiffman, Melvin (2017). "7.3". Adult Umbilical Reconstruction: Principles and Techniques. Switzerland: Springer. p. 53. ISBN 978-3-319-43885-6.
  7. ^ Mohamed, Fahmy (2018). "Umbilicus Types and Shapes". Umbilicus and Umbilical Cord. Egypt: Springer. pp. 105–8. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-62383-2_22. ISBN 978-3-319-62382-5.
  8. ^ Stephen Cullen, Thomas (1916). "2". Umbilicus. Australia: W.B.Saunders Company. p. 1.1–1.7. ISBN 978-0-7334-2609-4.
  9. ^ 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. S2CID 22628578.
  10. ^ Ceccanti, Silvia, et al. "Umbilical cord sparing technique for repair of congenital hernia into the cord and small omphalocele." Journal of Pediatric Surgery 52.1 (2017): 192-196.
  11. ^ Herrine, Steven K. "Ascites". The Merck Manuals.
  12. ^ 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 2803849. PMID 20062755.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Donna M. (2 June 2008). "What's Wrong With His Belly Button?". Pediatric Education.[self-published source?][unreliable medical source?]
  14. ^ Cunningham, F. Williams Obstetrics: The Newborn (24th ed.). McGraw-Hill.
  15. ^ Fleisher, Gary R. Textbook of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006, p. 928.
  16. ^ 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. S2CID 24285562.
  17. ^ "SRMC Surgeon Offers Gallbladder Removal through Belly Button Incision with da Vinci System" (Press release). Southeastern Health. 9 December 2013. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  18. ^ 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. S2CID 206034192.
  19. ^ "New code may reveal navel". Mohave Daily Miner. 24 March 1985. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Men in crop tops seem to be trending thanks to Kid Cudi, the social media and the catwalk". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  21. ^ Ktena, Natalie (28 August 2018). "We talked to a 'crop top historian' about the comeback of the male crop top". BBC. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  22. ^ Banerjee, Mukulika & Miller, Daniel (2003) The Sari. Oxford; New York: Berg ISBN 1-85973-732-3[page needed]
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Belly Dance History – A History of Belly Dancing « Belly Dance org". Retrieved 24 December 2018.

Further reading