11 Types of Anatomy | Systemic and Gross

Anatomy is the science that deals with studying the internal structure of a body.

The word anatomy comes from the Greek word anatome, meaning cutting up.

The term dissection is the Latin equivalent of the word anatome, but in English, the anatomy and dissection of the word mean two different things.

Dissection is one of the techniques through which anatomy is studied.

Anatomy is one of the foundation sciences for studying the art of medicine, and it is necessary to understand anatomy so that one can have a spatial idea of the structures inside the body.

Types of Anatomy

Though anatomy was initially studied by dissection, now the field of anatomy has become very wide because of all the possible techniques that have been developed, which can help us understand the body in a more detailed manner.

Cadaveric anatomy

  • This anatomy is studied by the dissection of dead bodies that have been preserved or embalmed by various chemicals to slow down the process of degradation.
  • This process is usually done by the naked eye so that we can observe the macroscopic or gross structures.
  • The study can be done using two approaches-

a) Regional anatomy

Here, the body is divided into major parts, and each part is studied separately. The parts are the upper limb, lower Limb, Thorax, Abdomen, head and neck, and brain.

The external and internal structures (viscera, blood vessels, lymphatics, nerves, etc.) are studied.

b) Systemic anatomy

The body is studied according to the various systems like the

  • skeletal system (osteology),
  • Muscular System (myology),
  • vascular system (angiology),
  • nervous system (neurology),
  • articulatory system (arthrology or syndesmology), and
  • Digestive, respiratory, urogenital, and endocrine systems (splanchnology).

In this method, we can have an idea of all the viscera, blood vessels, and other structures related to the system by correlating them with their respective functions.

Living anatomy

This study is on a living body.

It can either be done by simple methods of inspection, percussion, auscultation, or auscultation, or by using specialized instruments to perform endoscopy (bronchoscopy, gastroscopy), colonoscopy electromyography, electromyography, etc.

Thus, we can observe the structure and how the organ functions in both normal and diseased conditions.

Embryological anatomy

It is also known as developmental anatomy. Here, prenatal development and changes within an individual in their intrauterine life are studied.

It helps us understand the formation and importance of various structures within the body.

This also helps us understand various congenital anomalies and developmental defects.

The developmental history is called an oncogene.

Phylogeny Is the history of evolution.

Studying the embryonic development of various species helps us understand the phylogenetic relationships between different animals.


Also known as microscopic anatomy. This studies structures with the help of a microscope.

The tissues from various parts of the body are dissected, stained with appropriate reagents, and then observed under a microscope.

This gives us details of the structure and the characteristics of the cells and tissues that form the organ structure.

For example, we can observe hepatocytes of liver cells and make out the portal triads containing the central vein, hepatic arterioles, and bile ductules.

In the slide of a testis, we can observe the different stages of maturation of the sperm.

This histology gives us a more in-depth knowledge of the cells constituting the body.

Surface anatomy

  • Also known as topographic anatomy.
  • This is the study of deeper parts of the body in relation to what can be observed and felt over the skin surface.
  • Surface landmarks of structures are useful in this field of study.
  • It is very helpful in the case of live patients like in clinical practice and surgical procedures, like palpating the artery.

Radiographic and imaging anatomy

  • This is the study of bones and deeper organs by radiography, ultrasound, and computerized tomographic (CT) scans.
  • Bones appear opaque in X-rays, while organs filled with air only cast a faint shadow.
  • One can recognize fractures or cracks in a specific bone by doing an X-ray.
  • A duodenal ulcer can also be detected by giving the patient a barium meal and then doing radiographic imaging.

Physical anthropology

  • This is the study of external features and measurements of structures of different races and groups of people, with the study of prehistoric remains.
  • Even among the same species (Homo sapiens), one can find many differences in body structure. 
  • The study divides the people into races and records the various adaptations that the body underwent to survive, making each race different.
  • For example, people living in colder climates are usually shorter and fatter.
  • The reduced surface area helps in the preservation of heat, while the increased adipose tissue as fat serves insulating purposes.

Comparative anatomy

  • This is the relative study of structures and the functions of these structures of other animals corresponding to the human body.
  • This is done to observe similarities and differences and helps us establish evolutionary relationships.
  • For example, if we observe the limbs of humans and other primates, we can deduce that they evolved from a common ancestor.

Applied anatomy

  • Also known as clinical anatomy. This deals with the application of anatomical knowledge to medical and surgical practices.
  • For example, in appendicitis, the point of maximum pain is at McBurney’s point on the body.
  • A clinician can deduce the patient may have appendicitis because McBurney’s point corresponds to the point where the base of the appendix is present within the body.

Experimental anatomy

  • It is the study of various factors that influence and determine the form, structure, and function of different body parts.
  • Each experiment is targeted to learn more about a single anatomical structure.
  • It is highly useful in sports sciences.


  • This is the study of information passed through chromosomes.
  • This is very helpful in solving parental disputes or predicting the chances of a baby having genetic anomalies.
  • Many diseases, like sickle cell anemia, are genetically transferred.
  • Genetic anomalies causing Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, etc. can be detected even before the baby is born.

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