Anatomy (Greek anatom?, 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its beginnings in prehistoric times. Anatomy is inherently tied to developmental biology, embryology, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, and phylogeny, as these are the processes by which anatomy is generated, both over immediate and long-term timescales. Anatomy and physiology, which study the structure and function of organisms and their parts respectively, make a natural pair of related disciplines, and are often studied together. Human anatomy is one of the essential basic sciences that are applied in medicine.
The discipline of anatomy is divided into macroscopic and microscopic. Macroscopic anatomy, or gross anatomy, is the examination of an animal's body parts using unaided eyesight. Gross anatomy also includes the branch of superficial anatomy. Microscopic anatomy involves the use of optical instruments in the study of the tissues of various structures, known as histology, and also in the study of cells.
The history of anatomy is characterized by a progressive understanding of the functions of the organs and structures of the human body. Methods have also improved dramatically, advancing from the examination of animals by dissection of carcasses and cadavers (corpses) to 20th century medical imaging techniques including X-ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging.
Selected general anatomy article
Anatomical terminology is a form of scientific terminology used by anatomists, zoologists, and health professionals such as doctors.
Anatomical terminology uses many unique terms, suffixes, and prefixes deriving from Ancient Greek and Latin. These terms can be confusing to those unfamiliar with them, but can be more precise, reducing ambiguity and errors. Also, since these anatomical terms are not used in everyday conversation, their meanings are less likely to change, and less likely to be misinterpreted.
To illustrate how inexact day-to-day language can be: a scar "above the wrist" could be located on the forearm two or three inches away from the hand or at the base of the hand; and could be on the palm-side or back-side of the arm. By using precise anatomical terminology such ambiguity is eliminated. Read more...
Selected anatomical feature
The ear is the organ of hearing and, in mammals, balance. In mammals, the ear is usually described as having three parts--the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear consists of the pinna and the ear canal. Since the outer ear is the only visible portion of the ear in most animals, the word "ear" often refers to the external part alone. The middle ear includes the tympanic cavity and the three ossicles. The inner ear sits in the bony labyrinth, and contains structures which are key to several senses: the semicircular canals, which enable balance and eye tracking when moving; the utricle and saccule, which enable balance when stationary; and the cochlea, which enables hearing. The ears of vertebrates are placed somewhat symmetrically on either side of the head, an arrangement that aids sound localisation.
The ear develops from the first pharyngeal pouch and six small swellings that develop in the early embryo called otic placodes, which are derived from ectoderm.
The ear may be affected by disease, including infection and traumatic damage. Diseases of the ear may lead to hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders such as vertigo, although many of these conditions may also be affected by damage to the brain or neural pathways leading from the ear. Read more...
In vertebrates, the gallbladder is a small hollow organ where bile is stored and concentrated before it is released into the small intestine. In humans, the pear-shaped gallbladder lies beneath the liver, although the structure and position of the gallbladder can vary significantly among animal species. It receives and stores bile, produced by the liver, via the common hepatic duct, and releases it via the common bile duct into the duodenum, where the bile helps in the digestion of fats.
The gallbladder can be affected by gallstones, formed by material that cannot be dissolved - usually cholesterol or bilirubin, a product of haemoglobin breakdown. These may cause significant pain, particularly in the upper-right corner of the abdomen, and are often treated with removal of the gallbladder called a cholecystectomy. (Cholecyst means gallbladder.) Cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder, has a wide range of causes, including result from the impaction of gallstones, infection, and autoimmune disease. Read more...