Definition of Anatomy

Definition of Anatomy


  • Anatomy is the study of the structures of organisms.
  • Human anatomy is the study of structures in the body.
  • This includes both large structures and small ones, that can only be seen under a microscope.
  • It is formed from the greek words:
    • "ana" which means "up"
    • "temnein" which means "to cut"

Areas of specialization

Anatomy is divided into several areas:
  • Gross anatomy
    • This is the study of large structures, that don't need magnification.
    • Gross anatomy is also referred to as "macroscopic anatomy".
  • Microscopic anatomy
    • This is the study of small structures, usually with the help of a microscope.
    • It is further divided into:
      • Histology: the study of tissues
      • Cytology: the study of cells
    • Confusingly, "histology" can also be used to refer to microscopic anatomy as a whole.
    • Microscopic anatomy is also called "microanatomy".

Regional and systemic anatomy

  • Regional anatomy:
    • The study of a specific region of the body, and the relations between structures in that region.
    • For example, how muscles, vessels and nerves work together to produce movement.
    • It is also called "topographic anatomy".
  • Systemic anatomy
    • Systemic anatomy is the study of a specific organ system.
    • For example, a system-wise study of the muscular system would include all the skeletal muscles of the body.