Thursday, March 3, 2011

Branches of human anatomy

The scope of modern human anatomy has become very wide. The reason for this is that with the technological development, human anatomy is now studied with every possible mean that have a potential to enlarge the boundaries of anatomical knowledge. To make the process of learning and understanding easy and effective, human anatomy is divided into a number of branches so that the students can study each of them separately.

Main branches of human anatomy:

The main branches of human anatomy are:

Gross anatomy:

It is by far the most important and conspicuous branch of human anatomy. As the name indicates, it deals with the study of gross structure of human body. It is the macroscopic study of structure of human body. Commonly, gross anatomy is studied with naked eye on a dead preserved body. For this reason, gross anatomy is also known as cadaveric anatomy (cadaver = dead body). There are two approaches to study gross anatomy of human body.
  1. Regional approach: In this approach, the body is studied in parts like upper limb, lower limb, foot, hand etc. All the structures present inside a region of the body are studied collectively. Studying gross anatomy by this approach is very important for students of surgery.
  2. Systemic approach: In this approach, the body is studied in systems such as muscular system, cardiovascular system etc. All the organs that make up an organ system are studied collectively irrespective of their location inside the body.
For more information on gross anatomy, visit the link below (where gross anatomy has been explained on a systemic approach)
Gross anatomy of human body

Microscopic anatomy:

As the name indicates, microscopic anatomy is the study of microscopic details of structure of human body. To study microscopic anatomy, a special instrument known as microscope is used which is vital for this branch of human anatomy. Microscopic anatomy is further divided into two branches: Cytology and Histology. Cytology deals with the microscopic study of cells of human body while histology deals with the microscopic study of tissues of human body. It is worth mentioning here that the term “histology” is commonly used as an equivalent of the term “microscopic anatomy”, however, the difference between the two should be clearly understood.
Microscopic anatomy is extremely important to learn and understand. It forms the basis of understanding for subjects like pathology and medicine and to become an expert in these fields, one has to learn microscopic anatomy completely.
For more information on Histology of human tissues, visit the following page:


It is the study of development of a newborn from fertilization to the fetal stage. In simpler terms, embryology can be defined as the study of prenatal developmental changes in an individual. The developmental history of an organism is known as ontogeny and embryology is closely related to it. Learning human embryology is also important from evolutionary point of view. According to the theory “Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny”, the developmental history of an individual shows its evolutionary history. Embryology also forms the basis of understanding of many birth related diseases and genetic defects.
Living anatomy: It is the anatomic study of a living human body. Living anatomy is very important from clinical point of view because after all, you have to deal with living bodies in clinics. In this branch of anatomy the characteristics of a living human body are studied and then this knowledge is applied in the more practical branch of anatomy known as clinical anatomy.

Clinical anatomy:

As stated above, clinical anatomy is a more practical branch of human anatomy, which deals with the application of anatomical knowledge to clinical practice. In clinical anatomy, a student learns how to apply the knowledge of human anatomy in treating and diagnosing various physiological and pathological conditions.

Surface anatomy:

It is the study of the parts of human body in relation to the surface. In surface anatomy, a student gets to know the relations that exist between the deeper parts of human body and the skin. This study is very important for surgical practice where every structure needs to be located from the surface of the body.

Radiographic anatomy:

This branch of human anatomy is a gift of technological advancements. It is the study of bones and deeper organs of human body by plain and contrast radiography. The radiography is done by ultrasound and computerized tomographic (CT) scans. X-rays are also commonly used for this purpose.

Suggested pages on the web:
Learn human anatomy
Branches of human anatomy

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