Medical School Anatomy

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Introduction to Anatomy

Welcome to your overview of human anatomy. This section is simply to prepare you for your journey into the many layers involved in supporting and moving the body. Get accustomed to the terminology and structure used in anatomy so that you may communicate in a scholarly manner with others.

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Anatomy Videos

Dissection Videos

Nervous System Overview

In this section you will be introduced to the general structure of the central and peripheral nervous system. Understanding muscle movements and injuries requires vital knowledge of the nerves that innervate these muscles. The autonomic system is used to help regulate many organ and body functions, and can be used to diagnose many pathologies.

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Upper Limb: Shoulder & Brachia (Arm)

The shoulder is one of the most versatile join-muscle configurations in the human body. It allows great range of motion, but is also a point of injury (such as rotator cuff tears). One of the must used muscle groups, the arm, consists of an anterior compartment (biceps, brachialis, coracobrachialis) and a posterior compartment (triceps).

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Upper Limb: Antebrachia (Forearm) & Hand

The forearm is surprisingly complex for its smaller relative size. It consists of several layers of muscles, including specialized muscles for the actions of pronation and supination (rotation of the arm and wrist around its central axis). The nerves of the brachial plexus innervate the muscles of the arms, forearms, and fingers.

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Upper Limb Joints

With the abilities the shoulder possesses come potentials for injury. Rotator cuff injuries are seen frequently in throwing sports, such as baseball, while dislocations can occur with very little pressure applied at the proper angle. The elbow joints and wrists are particularly susceptible to damage from bracing the body after a fall. Damage to the ulnar nerve, AKA the "funny bone" spot, can restrict movement in the wrist and certain fingers. The median nerve, which passes through the carpel tunnel, is easily compressed by inflammation in the area or dislocation of carpel bones.

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Lower Limb: Gluteal Region and Thigh

The gluteal region is made up of the three gluteal muscles (maximum, medius, and minimus) as well as other pelvic support muscles. The lumbar and sacral plexus descends through this region to innervate the legs and feet. The thigh contains the longest muscle in the human body, the sartorius, and the strongest muscles, the quadriceps (or gluteus maximus depending on body type).

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Lower Limb: Leg and Foot

The design of the leg has many similarities to its upper counterpart, the forearm, yet is considerably different. Unlike the thigh, the anterior compartment of the leg is occupied by bone, shifting the muscles laterally. The foot has many ligaments; needed to support the weight and movement of the body. It also contains a special arch design to support the erect posture.

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Lower Limb: Leg Joints

Due to the weight the leg joints support and the wear and tear accumulated over the years, these joints are often sites of injury. Hip fractures and dislocations are common, especially in those with osteoporosis. The knee joints, chiefly the medial meniscus, are often injured in sports and by other lateral impacts. Ankles can be damaged by stressful activity, or by simple actions such as wearing heels. No matter the cause, a joint injury is something everyone will likely deal with at some point.

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Back

The epaxial (dorsal) and hypaxial (ventral) back muscles are grouped by innervation, not placement in relation to the vertebrae. The epaxial muscles are designed to support the spine, while allowing great maneuverability. Thought the back itself has very few movements, muscles of the back help to twist the torso, support head movements, and orient shoulder and arm motion.

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Thorax

The thorax is a much smaller area than often considered, consisting of the two plural cavities and the mediastinum. The right and left plural cavities allow for the negative pressure needed for lung expansion. Piercing these cavities can lead to a pneumothorax (collapsed lung). The mediastinum is a heavily protected structure due to the placement in between the vertebrae posteriorly, sternum anteriorly, and ribs and plural cavities laterally. It is composed of the heart, great vessels (aorta and vena cava), trachea, and esophagus.

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Abdomen and Peritoneal Cavity

The abdomen begins at the lower border of the rib cage and ends at the at the pelvis. It contains many compartments, generally separated by thick layers of connective tissue, called mesenteries or omentum. The greater and lesser omentum further divide compartments of the abdomen for clarification, but also to restrict movement of organs, fluids (blood), and even infection. The fat seen on the greater omentum assists in prevention of adhesion from one organ to another, as well as maintains body temperature.

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Pelvis

The pelvis is the area inferior to the abdomen. Its borders are the pelvic girdle superiorly (iliac spine/hips area) and perineum (genital area) inferiorly. This includes most of the urinary system (excluding the kidneys and superior ureter), the reproductive organs, inferior GI tract (cecum, colon, rectum), and intricate neural and vascular networks. Here, we see a distinct difference by gender in bony design, angles, and organ structure to suit the different needs of each sex. Most of these difference, however, can be traced back to the same embryologic origins.

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Neck

The neck is grossly divided into the anterior and posterior triangle for descriptive purposes. It houses the important vasculature to the head (carotid and vertebral arteries, jugular veins), spinal and cranial nerves (vagus, phrenic, ansa cervicalis), and muscles for facial expression, vocalization, and movement of the head. It also contains the hormone secreting thyroid gland that assists in metabolic rate homeostasis. The neck is particularly prone to damage from head impacts or direct trauma to the unprotected vessels. The complex lymphatics in this area make cancer very dangerous and often inoperable.

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Head

Containing many of the cranial nerve pathways, as well as human sense organs and the brain, the head is arguably the most important part of the human body. The skull is divided into the neurocranium (skullcap) and viscerocranium (face), which derive from neural crest cells and pharyngeal arches, respectively. There are also numerous sinuses which reduce the weight of the head while keeping it structurally strong. These sinuses are often the site of infection and spread of disease. The brain and sense organs in the head are complex systems of sensory signals and neural interpretations that create our day to day stimulus-response behavior.

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