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1.1A: Defining Anatomy

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    7275
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    Human anatomy is the study of the structure of the human body.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Define the two major subtypes of anatomy

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Gross anatomy is subdivided into surface anatomy (the external body), regional anatomy (specific regions of the body), and systemic anatomy (specific organ systems).
    • Microscopic anatomy is subdivided into cytology (the study of cells) and histology (the study of tissues).
    • Anatomy is closely related to physiology (study of function), biochemistry (chemical processes of living things), comparative anatomy (similarities and differences between species), and embryology (development of embryos).
    • Knowledge of anatomy is needed to understand human biology and medicine.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • anatomy: The study of the body structure of animals.
    • surface Anatomy: The study of anatomical landmarks that can be identified by observing the surface of the body. Sometimes called superficial anatomy.
    • microscopic anatomy: The study of minute anatomical structures on a microscopic scale, including cells (cytology) and tissues (histology).
    • Gross (or macroscopic) anatomy: The study of anatomical features visible to the naked eye, such as internal organs and external features.
    • embryology: The science of the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetal stage.
    • dissection: The process of disassembling an organism to determine its internal structure and understand the functions and relationships of its components.

     

    Defining Anatomy

     

    Anatomy describes the structure and location of the different components of an organism to provide a framework for understanding. Human anatomy studies the way that every part of a human, from molecules to bones, interacts to form a functional whole.

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    Rembrant’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp”: Human anatomy is the study of the structure of the human body, from the microscopic to the macroscopic.

    There are two major types of anatomy. Gross (macroscopic) anatomy is the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by the naked eye, such as the external and internal bodily organs. Microscopic anatomy is the study of tiny anatomical structures such as tissues and cells.

     

    Gross Anatomy

     

    Gross anatomy can be further subdivided into three different fields:

    • Surface anatomy (or superficial anatomy) is the study of external anatomical features without dissection.
    • Regional anatomy focuses on specific external and internal regions of the body (such as the head or chest) and how different systems work together in that region.
    • Systemic anatomy focuses on the anatomy of different organ systems, such as the respiratory or nervous system.

    Regional anatomy is widely used in modern teaching because it is easier to apply to a clinical setting than systemic anatomy. The major anatomy textbook, Gray’s Anatomy, has recently been reorganized from a systems format to a regional format to reflect this preference. Surface anatomy is also widely used to gauge the position and structure of deeper organs, tissues, and systems.

     

    Microscopic Anatomy

     

    Within microscopic anatomy, two topics of study are of great importance:

    • Cytology, the study of the structure and function of cells
    • Histology, the study of the organization and details of biological tissues

    The human body has many layers of organization. Biological systems consist of organs that consist of tissues, and tissue in turn is made up of cells and connective tissue. Microscopic anatomy allows one to focus on these tissues and cells.

     

    History of Anatomy

     

    The history of anatomy has been an evolving understanding of organs and structures in the body. Beginning in Ancient Greece and developing through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, methods of studying anatomy have advanced dramatically. This field has moved from examination of animals and cadavers through invasive dissection to the technologically complex techniques developed in the 20th century, such as non-invasive imaging and radiology.

    Generally, medical and biology students learn about the human body from anatomical models, skeletons, textbooks, diagrams, photographs, lectures, and tutorials. Medical and dental students also learn through the dissection and inspection of cadavers. A thorough working knowledge of anatomy is required for all medical professionals, especially surgeons and doctors working in diagnostic specialties such as radiology.

     

    Anatomy and Physiology

     

    Physiology is the study of how the components of the body function, and biochemistry is the study of the chemistry of living structures. Together with anatomy, these are the three primary disciplines within the field of human biology. Anatomy provides information about structure, location, and organization of different parts of the body that is needed to truly understand physiology.  Together, anatomy and physiology explain the structure and function of the different components of the human body to describe what it is and how it works.