Article:Anatomy as a Basic Medical Subject & Importance of Body Donation

Dr Krishna Garg, Ex Prof of Anatomy LHMC
Ms Bhavna Sharma MBA

Dr Krishna Garg
Anatomy is the study of normal structure of the human body. Zoology is the study of structure of the animals.

Thus anatomy is an extension of zoology. Human is the most evolved in the animal kingdom so far. Anatomy is understanding its structure and related functions is the science of physiology. Anatomy is the subject which anyone related to medical field has to learn. It is a visual science. We can see the gross anatomy by our eyes only. The details or microstructure has to be learnt with the help of microscopes, etc.

One has to learn and understand the normal structure in the beginning. Later on during the course of studies one learns the changes in systems and organs due to disease process. That branch of medical studies is pathology.

Relation of Anatomy to other medical subjects and other courses:


Physiology: This branch teaches the functions of normal structure. Physiology and anatomy are the two sides of the same coin. Anatomy is the theatre in which the drama of physiology is taking place.

Biochemistry: It is a branch which is closely related to physiology. Sixty years back, biochemistry and physiology were one subject. These are taught separately for the last many years and it has become a very important subject in itself.

Pathology: The study of disease process in any tissue or organ or system is study of pathology. Due to disease both the structure and functions may change. Knowledge of the normal structure and function will only help one to understand the disease process.

Microbiology: Earlier, Microbiology was part of pathology. Due to research and knowledge of the diverse bacteria, virus, etc. now these are two separate subjects. One has to have knowledge about the various pathogens responsible for the disease process.

Pharmacology: The structure of drug molecules which act on various pathogens is the branch of medicine known as pharmacology. It is related to biochemistry.

Forensic medicine/legal medicine: It is an important branch where injury inflicted on the organ has to be determined. Knowledge of anatomy is important to the know the site of injury. How various poisons, drugs, alcohol, etc. affect the body is learnt by the knowledge of anatomy only.

Ophthalmology: The knowledge of diseases of the eye is called ophthalmology. Unless one knows the normal intraocular pressure, it is not possible to understand why and how increased intraocular pressure occurs.

Ear, Nose, Throat: This is the branch (ENT) is taught in anatomy, but only the normal aspects are taught and dissected. During ENT teaching, various diseases including cancers affecting each part of ear, nose and throat are taught and their investigations and treatment modalities are discussed. Students visit the operation theatres for various surgical treatments.

Preventive and Social Medicine: This is an important subdivision. It is said “prevention is better than cure”. If one can prevent the occurrence of disease, that is the best option. Now it is being stated that “Prevention is the only cure”, i.e. No disease, no treatment required. So prevention of the disease has taken an upper hand over the cure of the disease.

“Man is a social animal”. One has to live in a society and one has to be useful to each other. We are not independent but we are interdependent. “Life is give and take”. Be useful to as many people as possible. PSM teaches prevention of diseases and promotion of health, both mental and physical.

Medicine: It is an extremely important branch, wherein medical personnel takes history of a patient, examines her/him, gets necessary investigations done and gives appropriate medicines to heal and cure the person. The whole society respects and regards the doctors in general and medicine specialist in particular. Medicine also includes psychiatry (mental health), dermatology and paediatrics. Now paediatrics is a separate discipline of medicine.

Surgery: It is the branch where operations need to be done. It may be for diagnosis or treatment. Surgery needs operation theatres, anaesthetists and highly trained nursing staff. Surgery also includes orthopedics and trauma services. These subjects need very accurate knowledge of anatomy.

Obstetrics and gynaecology: The branch which teaches the maintenance of pregnancy, delivery mechanism, treatment of diseases of female genital organs. This cannot be understood without a thorough knowledge of anatomy.

Physiotherapy/occupational therapy/rehabilitation: This is a separate division, where in anatomy is of cardinal importance.

Anatomy is taught to all the branches during their 1st year. Anatomy does not leave the candidates in their whole life such is predominant role of anatomy.

DENTISTRY: Structure and functions of tooth and treatment of various maladies affecting teeth are taught in dentistry. Again the knowledge of nerves, blood vessels related to the teeth get due importance.

NURSING PROFESSIONS: Nurses are the backbones of any clinic, hospital. They have to learn anatomy for giving various types of injections, etc. They also start their studies with study of anatomy.

Thus it is well proved that without anatomy knowledge medico, paramedicals, nurses, etc. cannot work properly.

Anatomy is studied on dead human beings. Their bodies are preserved by formalin (embalming). The problem of bodies can be solved by “Donation of Dead Bodies” to the medical/dental/rehabilitation colleges, where students do the dissection and learn slowly and steadily.

A supplementary method is by study of the Bones. So we must all strive hard to donate the bodies to the medical colleges where “dead teach the living”.

Dead teach the living during anatomy classes, so there is urgent message of donation of bodies for academic and research purposes. It is correctly said:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.


Anatomy is the study of structure of the normal human body. It is the basis of medical knowledge of human body. The gift of body donation is an indispensable help in medical education and research. It is greatly appreciated all over the globe. The need for body donation is great. It will further increase by the demand for additional doctors, dentists, nurses and various other health care personnel. The donation relieves one’s close relatives of making a big decision like this at the time of grief. The request for donation protects the survivors and the medical institutions. It makes the procedure at the time of death simplified.