Anatomia or anatomy encompasses the structure, organization, location, interrelationships, and function of the different parts of an organism.

Anatomy is the branch of biology that studies the internal body structure of living organisms and their parts(1)

Before the discovery of radiology, the only way to study and teach internal structures and organs was through dissection. Radiology helped correct mistaken anatomical notions made after examining cadavers(2).

Moreover, radiology allows students and professionals to visualize the actions, connections, and variability of the organs. Radiology plays an important role in identifying, interpreting, and learning about internal anatomical structures.

Radiology also helps detect deep-seated diseases in the early stages. Thus, it can be a useful aid in gross anatomy or the study of major body structures using dissection and observation.

Main Approaches to Studying Anatomy

There are three general approaches when studying gross anatomy or the human body’s larger structures.

Systemic anatomy studies the body and its parts based on the different body systems. Some of the basic body systems are the muscular system, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the digestive system.

Clinical anatomy focuses on how body structures and functions as applied to different medical practices and health sciences. Clinical anatomy is often taught alongside regional or systemic anatomy.

Regional anatomy, also referred to as topography anatomy, is the study of the human body according to regions.

Regional anatomy studies the connections and interactions of the structures or organs within each region. Regional anatomy also explores how different body systems in each region work with each other.

Modern teaching curricula commonly use the regional anatomy approach as it is easier to apply to a clinical setting compared to systemic anatomy(3).

Anatomical Regions of the Human Body

The human body may be divided into several anatomical regions. Each main area is further divided into smaller regions to help in compartmentalization and classification.

The major anatomical regions are(4):

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Thorax (chest)
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Upper extremities 
  • Lower extremities

Anatomical Regions and Radiology

Radiology offers a non-destructive and non-invasive method of testing the body to detect the smallest deviation from normal anatomy conditions.

In clinical settings, radiology and medical imaging give physicians a way to inspect the human body more accurately and identify causes of discomfort, disease, or death.

Different medical imaging methods or tests are used to visualize the inner body structures. 

Some of the most frequently used radiology imaging modalities or forms are X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, ultrasonography (U/S), and nuclear imaging scans(5).

Head and Neck

The head and neck region includes all anatomical structures from the neck upwards. This region includes the neck, oral cavity (mouth), nose, eyes, ears, and skull.

Examples of radiology imaging tests for the head and neck regions are head CT scans and neck CT scans. These imaging procedures may be used to check for bleeding, blood clots, or skull fractures(6).

Head MRIs are commonly used to help diagnose stroke, brain tumors, and hydrocephalus (build-up of fluid in the brain cavities)(7).


The thorax region refers to the trunk or chest area. Chest X-rays are common medical imaging tests(8). Patients with breathing issues and chest pains or injuries may be advised to get chest X-rays.

Chest CT scans are also common chest imaging exams used to check the size and diameter of different organs(9).

Abdomen and Pelvis

The abdomen and pelvis regions are often grouped together in radiology and medical imaging tests.

A commonly conducted imaging test on the abdomen and pelvis region is the abdominopelvic CT(10). Doctors often perform a combined PET/CT scan to diagnose or evaluate cancers in the abdominopelvic region(11).

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a nuclear imaging technique(12).

Upper Extremities

The upper extremities region starts from the shoulders. Other main parts of the upper extremity anatomy are the arms, elbows, forearms, and hands. The upper extremity is also referred to as the upper limb.

MRIs, such as shoulder and wrist MRIs, are the usual imaging method of choice for examining joints(13).

X-rays of the arms, forearms, and hands may be recommended to check for bone injuries, such as broken bones and fractures, or to check for bone development in children(14).

Lower Extremities

The lower extremities are also called the lower limb. This anatomical region may be divided into several parts: hip, thigh, knee, leg, ankle, and foot.

MRI scans are often conducted on joints in the lower extremities, similar to the upper extremity. Knee MRIs are the most commonly ordered medical imaging exams for the musculoskeletal system(15).

X-rays may also be ordered to help assess bone injuries in the legs, knee, and ankle.

Another imaging procedure that may be conducted on the lower extremity region is a venous ultrasound. This procedure is often done to check for deep vein thrombosis or blood clots in leg veins(16).

Correct understanding of the human anatomy and proper interpretation of radiological imaging results are vital for detecting diseases and maintaining optimal health.


  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2018, Sept. 26). Anatomy. Retrieved from
  2. Bardeen, C. R. (1927, May 1). The Use of Radiology in Teaching Anatomy. Radiology, 8(5).   
  3. LibreTexts. (2020, Aug. 14). Defining Anatomy. Retrieved from
  4. Rad, A. (2020, Dec. 7). Basic anatomy and terminology. Kenhub. Retrieved from
  5. Vasković, J. (2020, Oct. 29). Medical imaging and radiological anatomy. Kenhub. Retrieved from
  6. Radiological Society of North America. (2018, June 22). Computed Tomography (CT) – Head. Radiology Info. Retrieved from
  7. Radiological Society of North America. (2019, Feb. 5). Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Head. Radiology Info. Retrieved from
  8. Mayo Clinic. (2020, May 2). Chest X-rays. Retrieved from
  9. Vasković, J. (2020, Oct. 29). Op. cit.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Radiological Society of North America. (2019, Aug. 1). Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET/CT). Radiology Info. Retrieved from 
  12. Vasković, J. (2020, Oct. 29). Op. cit.
  13. Ibid.
  14. John Hopkins Medicine. X-rays of the extremities. Retrieved from
  15. Vasković, J. (2020, Oct. 29). Op. cit.
  16. Radiological Society of North America. (2019, Feb. 5). Ultrasound – Venous (Extremities). Radiology Info. Retrieved from

Central sulcus (fissure of Rolando)

The central sulcus (fissure of Rolando) separates the frontal lobe (anterior) from the parietal lobe (posterior). The location of the central sulcus is made by finding the intersection of the superior frontal sulcus with the precentral sulcus on axial slices near the top: see figure 8. Reference • Harnsberger HR, Osborn AG, Ross JS,

Central sulcus (fissure of Rolando) Read More


This photo gallery presents the anatomy of Cerebellum by means of MRI (T1-weighted sagittal, axial and coronal views). The cerebellum, Latin for “little brain,” is found at the base of the hindbrain or back of the brain. Findings showed that the cerebellum plays a vital role in maintaining balance, coordinating voluntary muscle movement, and

Cerebellum Read More

Cerebral Cisterns

This web page presents the anatomy of cisterns and subarachnoid spaces by means of MRI. Prepontine cistern Premedullary cistern Cerebellopontine cistern Cisterna magna Superior cerebellar cistern Interpeduncular cistern Ambient cistern Quadrigeminal cistern Suprasellar cistern What Are Cerebral Cisterns  Cisterns, commonly known as subarachnoid cisterns, are enlarged pockets of cerebrospinal fluid located in the subarachnoid

Cerebral Cisterns Read More

Cerebral hemispheres (overview)

The brain can be divided into left and right cerebral hemispheres. Each cerebral hemisphere is divided into six sections, called “lobes”: frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal and occipital lobe; plus two other that are not visible from outside: Insula and limbic lobe. To locate these different lobes of the brain, a 3D reconstruction was

Cerebral hemispheres (overview) Read More

Cerebral CT

This photo gallery presents the anatomical structures found on cerebral CT. Axial reconstructions Coronal reconstructions Sagittal reconstructions Axial reconstructions Image 1, cerebral CT, axial reconstruction. 1, Maxillary sinus (Right side). 2, Nasal septum. 3, Maxillary sinus (left side). 4, Nasopharynx. 5, External auditory meatus. 6, Foramen magnum. 7, Cerebellum. Image 2, cerebral CT, axial

Cerebral CT Read More

Caudate Nucleus

This photo gallery presents the anatomy of caudate nucleus by means of MRI (T1-weighted axial, sagittal and coronal views). The caudate nucleus (CN) plays a vital role in various higher neurological functions. The CN is a paired, C-shaped subcortical structure located deep inside the brain near the thalamus(1). Caudate nuclei contain a large anterior

Caudate Nucleus Read More


This photo gallery presents the anatomy of brainstem by means of MRI (T1-weighted sagittal, axial and coronal views). Brainstem = Midbrain + Pons + Medulla [ image_slider ] The Brainstem The brainstem refers to the middle part of the brain(1). It consists of the medulla, pons, and midbrain. The brainstem helps relay sensory information,

Brainstem Read More

Knee radiograph

This webpage presents the anatomical structures found on knee radiograph. Knee Radiograph – AP 1, Lateral condyle of femur 2, Femur 3, Patella 4, Medial condyle of femur 5, Medial intercondylar tubercle of tibia. 6, Tibia 7, Fibula Knee Radiograph – Lateral 1, Patella 2, Tibial tuberosity 3, Tibia 4, Femur 5, Medial condyle

Knee radiograph Read More

Scroll to Top