Definition And Types Of Anatomy With Its Major Divisions And Branches

What is Anatomy?

Simply, anatomy is the study of the structure of organisms like their systems, organs, and tissues. But a more comprehensive definition of Anatomy (originated from “Greek anatomē meaning ‘dissection’) is that it is the science which deals with how various physical structures or body parts of an organism are joined to form a framework and how they related to the other parts of the body both, spatially and functionally, In general, there are two main types of anatomy: macroscopic or macroscopic anatomy and microscopic anatomy, the detail of which is coming in the next lines. [1]

Key points to understand the anatomy

  • It includes the appearance and position of the various parts, the materials of which they are composed, their locations, and their relationships to other parts.
  • The term “anatomy” is commonly taken to refer to human anatomy. However, substantially the same structures and tissues are found throughout the rest of the animal kingdom and the term also includes the anatomy of other animals.
  • Anatomy science is closely related to the other sciences such as physiology (the study of function), biochemistry (chemical processes of living beings), evolutionary biology, phylogeny, comparative anatomy (similarities and differences between species), embryology (development of embryos). [2]
  • Knowledge of anatomy is required to understand human biology and medicine.
  • Methods to study anatomy include invasive and non-invasive methods in order to obtain information about the structure and organization of organs and systems. The methods used include dissection, in which a body is opened and its organs studied, and endoscopy, in which an instrument equipped with a video camera is inserted through a small incision in the body wall and use to explore internal organs and other structures. X-ray angiography or magnetic resonance angiography are methods of visualizing blood vessels. [2]

Main Divisions and Types of Anatomy

The discipline of anatomy is divided into two major divisions which are further divided into many types of anatomy.

A- Macroscopic or Gross Anatomy

B- Microscopic anatomy

A- Macroscopic anatomy or Gross Anatomy

It is the examination of parts of an animal’s body using unaided vision. The parts of the body are large enough to be seen with the naked eye, and also include superficial anatomy e.g. the study of external body features. Sometimes macroscopic anatomy is also called topographic anatomy. It includes the study of color, shape, weight, length, or the physical appearance of the part of the organism, or as a whole body.

The type of organism does not matter. In the case of Botany, we can study the gross anatomy of a plant, such as a shape and size of its leaves. A doctor could study the proportions of his patients, measuring their weight and height. Both scientists are using macroscopic anatomy skills.

However, in macroscopic anatomy, studies can be performed using non-invasive procedures. For example, in endoscopy, a sample tube is inserted into the body equipped with a camera on the end. This is enough to observe the physical structure of the living organism within it. X-rays, angiography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are other examples of performing gross anatomy using non-invasive methods. [4]

Types of Gross anatomy or Macroscopic Anatomy [3]

  1. Superficial anatomy: This is the study of external anatomical features which are seen without dissection.
  2. Regional anatomy: It focuses on specific external and internal body regions such as the head, chest, leg, etc., and how different systems work together in that region of the body.
  3. Systemic anatomy: This particularly focuses on the anatomy of different organ systems in the body, such as the respiratory or nervous system.
    Regional anatomy is widely used in teaching because it is easily applied to a clinical setting than systemic anatomy. The leading anatomy textbook, Gray’s Anatomy, is reorganized from a systems format to a regional format to reflect this preference.
  4. Surface anatomy: It is widely used to measure the position and structure of deeper organs, tissues, and systems in the body.

B– Microscopic anatomy

“As its name implies, microscopic anatomy deals with the study of cells and tissues of living organisms that are impossible to see with the naked eye. Special optical instruments such as microscopes are used for microscopic anatomy. Various invasive procedures are used to cut or dissect tissues to see anatomical details”

Since learning about tissues and cells requires procedures such as sectioning or cutting tissue into small, delicate slices and staining to enhance the color of tissues and cells for better distinction, microscopic anatomy is also called histology. The study of cells under microscopic observation is often called cytology. [4]

Microscopic anatomy Started with the invention of light microscopy and highly advanced optical to the electron microscope. Entire new worlds of organisms, such as bacteria and single-celled eukaryotes, have been opened for study. Cell biology is an entire field including the study of cells, their organelles, and how they function. Microscopic anatomy is very crucial for this type of study.

Types of Microscopic Anatomy

  1. Histology is the study of the microscopic tissues from which organs of the body are made. For example study of Nervous, muscular, skin tissues in animals and xylem or phloem tissues in plants.
  2. Cytology is the study of cell structure and functions. It also includes various subcellular structures called organelles by which the cell is composed. Cytology deals with the complete understanding of external morphology as well as internal structures of the cell also how these interact to make cells alive.
  3. Embryology, also known as developmental anatomy, is the study of embryonic development from a single-celled zygote to a fully formed fetus. It is also considered under microscopic Anatomy because the embryo is a microscopic structure.

Types of Anatomy on the basis of Target Organism [2]

More ever, the type of anatomy also depends on the target organism which is being studied. According to the type of organism being studied anatomy may be of the following types.

  1. Androtomy or anthropotomy: It is the anatomical study of the human body by dissecting it.
  2. Zootomy: The term zootomy is also sometimes used to refer specifically to non-human animals.
  3. Plant anatomy or phytotomy: It is the general term for the study of the internal structure of  Phytotomy is now frequently investigated at the cellular level and  involves the sectioning of tissues and microscopy
  4. Comparative anatomy, or the comparative study of the anatomy of different organisms.

Relation of Anatomy with physiology

Anatomy is quite different from physiology and biochemistry, which respectively deal with the functions of those parts and the chemical processes involved. For example, an anatomist is concerned with the shape, size, position, structure, blood supply, and innervation of an organ such as the liver; while a physiologist is interested in the production of bile, the role of the liver in nutrition, and the regulation of bodily functions.

Other types of Anatomy

  1. Cadaveric Anatomy: A dead human body that can be used by doctors and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. Medical school students study and dissect corpses as part of their education. This type of anatomy is called Cadaveric anatomy.
  2. Living Anatomy: It is defined as the anatomy revealed in living humans, is gaining importance in modern anatomy education, and has even been considered to replace the cadaver-based study of anatomy.
  3. Clinical anatomy: is defined as anatomy in all its aspects – gross, histologic, developmental and neurologic as applied to clinical practice
  4. Radiographic Anatomy Radioanatomy (X-ray anatomy):  is an anatomy discipline that involves the study of anatomy through the use of radiographic films. X-ray film represents such as chest x-ray,
  5. Applied anatomy: It is the practical application of anatomical knowledge for diagnosis and treatment.
  6. Experimental anatomy: It is an approach or a method in anatomy that is distinguished in particular by conducting specific and specific experiments involving unique anatomical structures; It is carried out to gather more information on the function of the respective anatomical structure.
  7. Post-Surgical Endoscopic Anatomy: Patients who have undergone surgical procedures that altered the anatomy of the upper digestive tract (GI) are often referred for endoscopic evaluation. It is essential that gastroenterologists understand postoperative anatomic abnormalities. This type of anatomy is Post-Surgical Endoscopic Anatomy.



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