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Gross anatomy, also called topographical anatomy, is the study of anatomy at the macroscopic level. The term gross distinguishes it from other areas of anatomical study, including histology, which is the microscopic study of anatomy typically with a microscope. Other branches of anatomy include embryology and neuroanatomy.
Techniques of study
Gross anatomy is studied using both invasive and noninvasive methods with the goal of obtaining information about the macroscopic structure and organization of organs and organ systems. Among the most common methods of study is dissection, in which the body of an animal or cadaver is surgically opened and its organs studied. Endoscopy, in which a video camera-equipped instrument is inserted through a small incision in the subject, may be used to explore the internal organs and other structures of living animals. The anatomy of the circulatory system in a living animal may be studied noninvasively via angiography, a technique in which blood vessels are visualized after being injected with an opaque dye. Other techniques of study include X-ray and MRI.
Most doctoral health profession schools, such as medical and dental schools, require that students complete a practical (dissection) course in gross human anatomy. Such courses aim to educate students in basic human anatomy and seek to establish anatomical landmarks that may later be used to aid medical diagnosis. Many schools provide students with cadavers for investigation by dissection, aided by dissection manuals such as Grant's Dissector, as well as cadaveric atlases (e.g. Netter's, Rohen's).
- Standring (2008) Introduction, Anatomical nomenclature, p.2
- Standring, Susan (2008) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice, 39th Edition