History of anatomy

History of anatomy

The development of anatomy as a science extends from the earliest examinations of sacrificial victims to the sophisticated analyses of the body performed by modern scientists. It has been characterized, over time, by a continually developing understanding of the functions of organs and structures in the body. The field of Human Anatomy has a prestigious history, and is considered to be the most prominent of the biological sciences of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Methods have also improved dramatically, advancing from examination of animals through dissection of cadavers to technologically complex techniques developed in the 20th century.[1] Anatomy is one of the cornerstones of a doctor’s medical education. Despite being a persistent portion of teaching from at least the renaissance, the format and the amount of information being taught has evolved and changed along with the demands of the profession. What is being taught today may differ in content significantly from the past but the methods used to teach this have not really changed that much. For example all the famous public dissections of the Middle Ages and early renaissance were in fact prosections. Prosection is the direction in which many current medical schools are heading in order to aid t

e teaching of anatomy and some argue that dissection is better. However looking at results of post graduate exams, medical schools (specifically Birmingham) that use prosection as opposed to dissection do very well in these examinations.[2] This would suggest that prosection can fit very well into the structure of modern medical training. Egypt The study of anatomy begins at least as early as 1600 BCE, the date of the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. This treatise shows that the heart, its vessels, liver, spleen, kidneys, hypothalamus, uterus and bladder were recognized, and that the blood vessels were known to emanate from the heart. Other vessels are described, some carrying air, some mucus, and two to the right ear are said to carry the "breath of life", while two to the left ear the "breath of death". The Ebers papyrus (c. 1550 BCE) features a treatise on the heart. It notes that the heart is the center of the blood supply, with vessels attached for every member of the body. The Egyptians seem to have known little about the function of the kidneys and made the heart the meeting point of a number of vessels which carried all the fluids of the body – blood, tears, urine and semen. However, they did not have a theory as to where saliva and sweat came from.