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What is the difference between Microscopic Anatomy and Gross Anatomy?

Because the human body is so complex, we have two main groups of anatomy: Microscopic anatomy and Gross anatomy.

What is Microscopic Anatomy?

Microscopic Anatomy is the study of small anatomic structures that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Microscopic anatomy is further divided into two smaller divisions:

  • Cytology, which is the study of cells and its organelles
  • Histology which is the study of tissues.

What is Gross Anatomy?

On the other hand, Gross Anatomy is any structure that can be seen without aid, such as an arm, a foot, the heart, any large organs, etc. Gross Anatomy is divided into the following fields:

  • Surface Anatomy: the study of superficial structures, such as the skin.
  • Systemic Anatomy: the study of multiple structures that function as a system, such as the respiratory system.
  • Regional Anatomy: the study of anatomical structures that are located in a certain region, such as muscles located around the skull.
  • Comparative Anatomy: the study of anatomy by comparing human structures with structures of other animals such as dogs, monkeys, etc.
  • Embryology: the study of embryological growth.

If you're having trouble differentiating between Microscopic anatomy and Gross anatomy, just ask yourself this question: Can I see the structure without using a microscope or any kind of aid? If you answer yes to that question, it is gross anatomy, and if you answer no, it is microscopic anatomy.

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