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History of Anatomy

History of Anatomy

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Published by Mitko
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.
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.

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Published by: Mitko on Nov 11, 2010
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History of anatomy1
History of anatomy
Maya bust
The
development of anatomy
as a science extends from the earliestexaminations of sacrificial victims to the sophisticated analyses of the bodyperformed by modern scientists. It has been characterized, over time, by acontinually developing understanding of the functions of organs and structures inthe body. The field of Human Anatomy has a prestigious history, and isconsidered to be the most prominent of the biological sciences of the 19th andearly 20th centuries. Methods have also improved dramatically, advancing fromexamination of animals through dissection of cadavers to technologicallycomplex techniques developed in the 20th century
[1]
.Anatomy is one of the cornerstones of a doctor
s medical education. Despitebeing a persistent portion of teaching from at least the renaissance, the formatand the amount of information being taught has evolved and changed along withthe demands of the profession. What is being taught today may differ in contentsignificantly from the past but the methods used to teach this have not really changed that much. For example all thefamous public dissections of the Middle Ages and early renaissance were in fact prosections. Prosection is thedirection in which many current medical schools are heading in order to aid the teaching of anatomy and some arguethat dissection is better. However looking at results of post graduate exams, medical schools (specificallyBirmingham) that use prosection as opposed to dissection do very well in these examinations
[2]
. This would suggestthat prosection can fit very well into the structure of modern medical training.
Ancient anatomy
Charaka is referred to as the Father of Anatomy.
Egypt
The study of anatomy begins at least as early as 1600 BCE, the date of the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. Thistreatise shows that the heart, its vessels,liver, spleen, kidneys, hypothalamus, uterus and bladder were recognized,and that the blood vessels wereknown to emanatefrom 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 theblood supply, with vessels attached for every member of the body. The Egyptians seem to have known little aboutthe function of the kidneys and made the heart the meeting point of a number of vessels which carried all the fluidsof the body
 – 
blood, tears, urine and sperm.
[3]
Greece
The earliest medical scientist of whose works anygreat part survives today is Hippocrates, a Greek physician activein the late 5th and early 4th centuries BCE (460- 377 BCE). His work demonstrates a basic understanding of  musculoskeletal structure, and the beginnings of understanding of the function of certain organs, such as the kidneys.Much of his work, however, and much of that of his students and followers later, relies on speculation rather thanempirical observation of the body. One of the greatest achievements of Hippocrates was that he was the first todiscover the tricuspid valve of the heart and its function which he documented in the treatise
On the Heart 
in the
 Hippocratic Corpus
. Later anatomists knew the function of the tricuspid valve after reading the
 Hippocratic Corpus
.In the 4th century BCE, Aristotle and several contemporaries produced a more empirically founded system, basedanimal dissection. Around this time, Praxagoras is credited as the first to identify the difference between arteries and
 
History of anatomy2veins, and the relations between organs are described more accurately than in previous works.The first use of human cadavers for anatomical research occurred later in the 4th century BCE when Herophilos andErasistratus gained permission to perform live dissections, or vivisection, on criminals in Alexandria under theauspices of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Herophilos in particular developed a body of anatomical knowledge much moreinformed by the actual structure of the human body than previous works had been.
Galen
The final major anatomist of ancient times was Galen, active in the 2nd century. He compiled much of theknowledge obtained by previous writers, and furthered the inquiry into the function of organs by performingvivisection on animals. Due to a lack of readily available human specimens, discoveries through animal dissectionwere broadly applied to human anatomy as well. His collection of drawings, based mostly on dog anatomy, became
the
anatomy textbook for 1500 years. The original text is long gone, and his work was only known to theRenaissance doctors through the careful custody of Arabic medicine.
Medieval anatomy
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the study of anatomy became stagnant in Christian Europe but flourished in themedieval Islamic world, where Muslim physicians and Muslim scientists contributed heavily to medieval learningand culture. The Persian physician Avicenna (980-1037) absorbed the Galenic teachings on anatomy and expandedon them in
The Canon of Medicine
(1020s), which was very influential throughout the Islamic world and ChristianEurope.
The Canon
remained the most authoritative book on anatomy in the Islamic world until Ibn al-Nafis in the13th century, though the book continued to dominate European medical education for even longer until the 16thcentury.The Arabian physician Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) (1091
 – 
1161) was the first physician known to have carried out humandissections and postmortem autopsy. He proved that the skin disease scabies was caused by a parasite, a discoverywhich upset the theory of humorism supported by Hippocrates and Galen. The removal of the parasite from thepatient's body did not involve purging, bleeding, or any other traditional treatments associated with the fourhumours.
[4]
In the 12th century, Saladin's physician Ibn Jumay was also one of the first to undertake humandissections, and he made an explicit appeal for other physicians to do so as well. During a famine in Egypt in 1200,Abd-el-latif observed and examined a large number of skeletons, and he discovered that Galen was incorrectregarding the formation of the bones of the lower jaw and sacrum.
[5]
Ibn al-Nafis
The Arabian physician Ibn al-Nafis (1213
 – 
1288) was one of the earliest proponents of human dissection andpostmortem autopsy, and in 1242, he was the first to describe the pulmonary circulation
[6]
and coronary circulation
[7]
of the blood, which form the basis of the circulatory system, for which he is considered the father of the theory of circulation.
[8]
Ibn al-Nafis also described the earliest concept of metabolism,
[9]
and developed new systems of anatomy and physiology to replace the Avicennian and Galenic doctrines, while discrediting many of their erroneoustheories on the four humours, pulsation,
[10]
bones, muscles, intestines, sensory organs, bilious canals, esophagus,stomach, and the anatomy of almost every other part of the human body.
[11]
 
History of anatomy3
Early modern anatomy
In this 1559 anatomical plate by Juan Valverde deAmusco, a figure holds a knife in one hand andhis own skin in the other.
The works of Galen and Avicenna, especially
The Canon of Medicine
which incorporated the teachings of both, were translated into Latin,and the
Canon
remained the most authoritative text on anatomy inEuropean medical education until the 16th century. The first majordevelopment in anatomy in Christian Europe, since the fall of Rome,occurred at Bologna in the 14th to 16th centuries, where a series of authors dissected cadavers and contributed to the accurate descriptionof organs and the identification of their functions. Prominent amongthese anatomists were Mondino de Liuzzi and Alessandro Achillini.The first challenges to the Galenic doctrine in Europe occurred in the16th century. Thanks to the printing press, all over Europe a collectiveeffort proceeded to circulate the works of Galen and Avicenna, andlater publish criticisms on their works. Vesalius was the first to publisha treatise,
 De humani corporis fabrica
, that challenged Galen "drawingfor drawing" travelling all the way from Leuven
[12]
to Padua forpermission to dissect victims from the gallows without fear of persecution. His drawings are triumphant descriptions of the,sometimes major, discrepancies between dogs and humans, showingsuperb drawing ability. Many later anatomists challenged Galen intheir texts, though Galen reigned supreme for another century.A succession of researchers proceeded to refine the body of anatomical knowledge, giving their names to a numberof anatomical structures along the way. The 16th and 17th centuries also witnessed significant advances in theunderstanding of the circulatory system, as the purpose of valves in veins was identified, the left-to-right ventricleflow of blood through the circulatory system was described, and the hepatic veins were identified as a separateportion of the circulatory system. The lymphatic system was also identified as a separate system at this time.
17th and 18th centuries
The
 Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
, by Rembrandt, depicts anautopsy.
The study of anatomy flourished in the 17th and 18thcenturies. The advent of the printing press facilitatedthe exchange of ideas. Because the study of anatomyconcerned observation and drawings, the popularity of the anatomist was equal to the quality of his drawingtalents, and one need not be an expert in Latin to takepart. [13] Many famous artists studied anatomy,attended dissections, and published drawings formoney, from Michelangelo to Rembrandt. For the firsttime, prominent universities could teach somethingabout anatomy through drawings, rather than relying onknowledge of Latin. Contrary to popular belief,thechurch neither objected to nor obstructed anatomicalresearch despite its antagonism towards other scientificpractices.
[14]
. The increase in demand for cadavers,though, led to rumors about anatomy murder.

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