Anatomy and Branches of Anatomy

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You are about to begin the study of one of nature’s most wondrous structures – the human body. Anatomy (ah-NAT-o-me) and Physiology (fiz-ce-OL-o-jee) are branches of biology that are concerned with the form (structure) and functions of the body.

Anatomy: Anatomy is the study of body structure

Physiology: Physiology is the study of body function

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What is Anatomy?

Anatomy is often defined as the study of the structure of an organism and the relationships of its parts. The word anatomy is derived from two Greek words (ana “up.” and temos or tomos, “cutting”).

Biology is defined as the study of life. Both anatomy and physiology are subdivisions of this very broad area of inquiry. Just as biology can be subdivided into specific areas for study, so can anatomy and physiology.

Human Anatomy

It is branch of medical science which deals with the study of structure of different organs and body parts of human.


Students of anatomy still learn about the structure of the human body by literally cutting it apart. This process is called dissection.

What are the types of anatomy?

There are two types of anatomy.

  • Macroscopic or gross Anatomy
  • Microscopic Anatomy

Macroscopic or Gross Anatomy

It is branch of anatomy which deals with the study of structure of human body parts by naked eye, mean that without any microscope or lenses. It includes, for example, external or internal organs. Macroscopic or Gross Anatomy has 3 branches.

  1. Surface anatomy (the external body)
  2. Regional anatomy (specific regions of the body)
  3. Systemic anatomy (specific organ systems).

Microscopic Anatomy

The second kind of anatomy is microscopic anatomy. According to the title this type of anatomy is focused on the microscopic components (tissues as well as cells) that make up the larger structures. This is why microscopic anatomy depends on the use of microscopes for studying the structures. Microscopic Anatomy has 2 branches.

  1. Histology (tissue)
  2. Cytology (cells)

Branches of Anatomy

There are several branches of anatomy, including three from Macroscopic Anatomy, two from Microscopic and some other specific subdivisions of anatomy.

  1. Surface Anatomy (the external body)
  2. Regional Anatomy (specific regions of the body)
  3. Systemic Anatomy (specific organ systems)
  4. Histology (tissue)
  5. Cytology (cells)
  6. Embryology
  7. Developmental Anatomy
  8. Radiographic Anatomy
  9. Pathological Anatomy

Surface Anatomy

Surface or superficial anatomy deals with study of the external anatomical features observable without dissection of organs. Like Skin, Hair.

Regional Anatomy

It is the branch of anatomy that deals with the study of any specific internal or external region of the body. Like Midclavicular planes, Epigastric region, Umbillcal region, Pubic region.

Systemic Anatomy

Systemic anatomy is the study of various organ systems and their structures—for example, the gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, Nervous System.


It is a branch of anatomy which deals with the study of microscopic structure of biological tissues. Specific techniques are used in order to do histological studies.

Firstly, the material is fixated in chemical solutions in order to retain the natural structure. It is then cut into very thin slices using a “nano-knife.”

These slices are then placed on microscope slides and colored using particular chemical agents, depending on what structures one wishes to study.


It is the branch of anatomy that deals with the study of structure of cell and its components. It is mostly used for cancer screening and diagnosis, especially cervical cancer (pap smear), detection of fetal abnormalities, and diagnosis of specific infectious agents.


It is the branch of anatomy which deals with the study of embryo. It also studies gametes’ (the sex cells) production and fertilization and congenital disorders occurring before birth (teratology). It provides details of changes occurring during development.

Developmental Anatomy

The developmental anatomy is a study of a wider period of time since it focuses on the development of structures beginning at the fertilized egg and continuing to the adult shape.

Radiographic Anatomy

As the term might imply, radiographic anatomy studies body structures that can be evaluated using x-rays (radiographs or CT scans).

Pathological Anatomy

Pathological anatomy analyzes microscopic and macroscopic changes that occur with disease. It assists in observing the effects of a particular disease and identify the root of disease.

Applied Anatomy

It is the branch of anatomy that deals with the study of diagnosis of disease.

Cross-Section Anatomy

It is the branch of anatomy that deals with the study of cross-sectional part of human body.


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