Anatomy (from the Greek ἀνατομία anatomia, from ἀνατέμνειν ana: separate, apart from, and temnein, to cut up, cut open) is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy (zootomy) and plant anatomy (phytotomy). In some of its facets anatomy is closely related to embryology, comparative anatomy and comparative embryology, through common roots in evolution.
Anatomy is subdivided into gross anatomy (or macroscopic anatomy) and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy (also called topographical anatomy, regional anatomy, or anthropotomy) is the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by unaided vision with the naked eye. Microscopic anatomy is the study of minute anatomical structures assisted with microscopes, which includes histology (the study of the organization of tissues), and cytology (the study of cells).
The history of anatomy has been characterized, over time, by a continually developing understanding of the functions of organs and structures in the body. Methods have also improved dramatically, advancing from examination of animals through dissection of cadavers (dead human bodies) to technologically complex techniques developed in the 20th century including X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI imaging.
Anatomy should not be confused with anatomical pathology (also called morbid anatomy or histopathology), which is the study of the gross and microscopic appearances of diseased organs.
Superficial anatomy or surface anatomy is important in anatomy being the study of anatomical landmarks that can be readily seen from the contours or the surface of the body. With knowledge of superficial anatomy, physicians or veterinary surgeons gauge the position and anatomy of the associated deeper structures. Superficial is a directional term that indicates one structure is located more externally than another, or closer to the surface of the body.
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