BD Chaurasia’s Handbook of General Anatomy


Human anatomy is the science which deals with the structure of the human body. The term, ‘anatomy’, is derived from a Greek word, anatome, meaning cutting up. The term dissection is a Latin equivalent of the Greek anatome. However, the two words, anatomy and dissection, are not synonymous.

Dissection is a mere technique, whereas anatomy is a wide field of study. Anatomy forms firm foundation of the whole art of medicine and introduces the student to the greater part of medical terminology. Anatomy is to physiology as geography is to history i.e. it describes the theatre in which the action takes place

Initially, anatomy was studied mainly by dissection. But the scope of modern anatomy has become very wide because it is now studied by all possible techniques which can enlarge the boundaries of the anatomical knowledge

Cadaveric anatomy is studied on dead embalmed (preserved) bodies usually with the naked eye (macroscopic or gross anatomy). This can be done by one of the two approaches: (a) In regional anatomy the body is studied in parts, like the upper limb, lower limb, thorax, abdomen, head and neck, and brain; (b) in’systemic anatomy” the body is studied in systems, like the skeletal system (osteology) muscular system (myology), articulatory system, vascular system (angiology), nervous system (neurology), and respiratory, digestive, urogenital and endocrine systems (splanchnology).

Herophilus of Chalcedon (circa 300 B.C.) is called the “father of anatomy”. He was a Greek physician, and was one of the first to dissect the human body. He distinguished cerebrum from cerebellum, nerves from tendons, arteries from veins, and the motor from sensory nerves.

He described and named the parts of eye, meninges, torcular Herophili, fourth ventricle with calamus scriptorius, hyoid bone, duodenum, prostate gland, etc. We owe to him the first description of the lacteals. Herophilus was a very successful teacher, and wrote a book on anatomy, A special treatise of the eyes, and a popular handbook for midwives.

Galen of Pergamum, Asia Minor (circa 130-200 A.D.) the prince of physicians, practised medicine at Rome. He was the foremost’ practitioner of his days and the first experimental physiologist.

He wrote voluminously and theorized and dogmatized on many medical subjects like anatomy, physiology, pathology, symptomatology and treatment. He demonstrated and wrote on anatomy De anatomicisadministrationibus. His teachings were followed and considered as the infallible authority on the subject for nearly 15 centuries

Mundinus or Mondino d’Luzzi the ‘restorer of anatomy’, was an Italian anatomist and professor of anatomy at Bologna. He wrote a book Anathomia which was the standard anatomical text for over a century. He taught anatomy by dissection for which his text was used as a guide. He was the most renowned anatomist before Vesalius


Leonardo da Vinci of Italy (1452-1519), the originator of cross-sectional anatomy, was one of the greatest geniuses the world has known. He was a master of arts and contributed substantially in mathematics, science and engineering. He was the first to describe the moderator band of the right ventricle. The most admirable of his works are the drawings of the things he observed with perfection and fidelity. His 60 notebooks containing 500 diagrams were published in 1898

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