What is anatomy?

Published on December 31, 2019   30 min
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"What is Anatomy? " by Bernard John Moxham, Professor Emeritus of Anatomy, Cardiff University, United Kingdom, and immediate past president of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomy.
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The purpose of this introductory talk is, first, to describe the scope of the anatomical sciences. Secondly, to compare the systems and regional approaches to teaching and learning gross anatomy. Thirdly, to provide a basic terminology for gross anatomy. Fourthly, to place in context the study of gross anatomy within contemporary medical education. Finally, to provide the student with some hints about how to study and learn anatomy.
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Anatomy is concerned with the structure of the human body and is a branch of science. It is image-rich. If you look through the textbooks or, indeed, through the research literature, you will find that the anatomists constantly use imagery in order to describe what they are looking at. Now, the word anatomy comes really from the Latin but is derived initially from a Greek word, and that word actually means to cut up, and it appeared in its English form in late Middle English. The name anatomy being 'cut up' therefore indicates how the human body was investigated in the first instance and now how, in the main nowadays, it is being taught and learnt.
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Now, the anatomical sciences can be subdivided into a number of branches. The one we are going to be mainly concerned with is gross, or sometimes referred to as topographical, anatomy. This is the anatomy that everyone seems to think about because it is the kind of anatomy that one sees in the dissecting room.