Anatomy is the study of structure and organization of the body. The word “anatomy” is the combination of two Greek words, ana=”apart”, tomy=”to cut”. So, it means to study by cutting apart, that is, by dissection.
The discipline of anatomy is divided into macroscopic and microscopic anatomy. Macroscopic anatomy, or gross anatomy, is the examination of an animal’s body parts using unaided eyesight. Gross anatomy also includes the branch of superficial anatomy. Microscopic anatomy involves the use of optical instruments in the study of thetissues of various structures, known as histology and also in the study of cells.
Branches of Anatomy:
Anatomy can be divided into various branches. Major branches are as follows:
➣ Macroscopic (or Gross) Anatomy:
In this branch, the structures are studied with naked eye without the aid of microscopes. Since gross anatomy is studied on cadavers, it is also called cadaveric anatomy.
Gross anatomy can be studied using the following two approaches:
● Regional Approach: In this approach, we focus on a particular region and study various structures and their arrangement in that particular region. For example, in regional anatomy of the head, we will study the bones, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, etc of the head region only. This type of approach is applied in cadaveric studies.
● Systemic Appraoch: In this approach, we study a particular system of the body as a whole. For example, in systemic study of the cardiovascular system, we will study the heart and the blood vessels found in all parts of the body. This type of approach is necessary to understand the function of the system as a whole and to understand the coordination among different parts.
➣ Microscopic Anatomy (or Histology):
In this branch, we study the structures (cells and tissues) with the help of microscopes.
➣ Embryology (or Developmental Anatomy):
This branch deals with the study of embryo, from single-cell stage to the development of a complete human. It provides details of changes occurring during development. Hence, it helps in understanding congenital deformities and defects.
➣ Surface (or Topographic) Anatomy:
In this branch, surface of the human body is studied in relation to the deeper parts. Hence, it enables us to locate the internal structures from the surface of the body. Surface anatomy is of paramount importance in physical examination and surgery.
➣ Clinical (or Applied) Anatomy:
In this branch, we apply the anatomical knowledge in clinical practice for the diagnosis and treatment of different conditions. It often involves viewing the same scenario in an inverted or reverse order. For example, instead of thinking “the action of this muscle is to…”, we focus on “How the absence of action of this muscle will be manifested?”.
➣ Comparative Anatomy:
In this branch, we compare the anatomy of different species with one another.
➣ General Anatomy:
In this branch, we study different body tissues, fluids, systems, etc in general.
➣ Radiological Anatomy:
In this branch, we study the body by using various radiological and imaging techniques.