Human anatomy

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of the Course of Anatomy is to provide a map for self-guided learning and a tool for student success, managing to:
- define the terms relative to the anatomical position, the anatomical planes and the terms used to describe movement, so preparing the students to the correct knowledge and use of anatomical terms,
- define the basic principles of anatomy and identify the major levels of organization of human body with description of organ structure, size, localization inside the body in relation to adjacent structures,
- describe and recognize the major components of each organ system (muscular, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, renal, reproductive, integumentary),
- identify and describe the surface limits of the major body cavities (thorax, abdomen and pelvic cavity), including the detailed description of the limits of the mediastinum, pleural spaces, the four quadrants and nine descriptive regions of the abdomen in relation to underlying organs the relationship of the abdominal organs to the peritoneum (parietal and visceral layers) and the intestinal mesenteries,
- define the critical concept of human barrier (skin, respiratory, digestive system, hepatic sinusoids, kidney filtration barrier),
- describe the basic principles of the development of embryo and fetus, and the relationship with congenital malformations,
- recognize common anatomical variants,
- identify and describe the differences between the male and female when considering reproductive and endocrine systems, including the different embryological development and the anatomical changes that occur during pregnancy,
- define the layering structure of anatomical regions, their projection on the skin and the relation to the major surface and bony landmarks in each body region (e.g. occipital protuberance, orbital ridge, nasal bones, mastoid process, cervical to sacrococcygeal vertebrae and associated joints, shoulder girdle and upper limb, sternal region, ribs and costal margin, pelvic girdle and lower limb).
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the Course of Anatomy, the student should be able to:
- identify the key concepts of the structure and function of human anatomy: systems organization, morphology of the corresponding organs (including external and internal features) and their position in the body cavities and spaces,
- demonstrate an understanding of a specific embryological event or sequence of events that leads to the development of a particular body region or system,
- demonstrate a knowledge and an understanding of structure and a basic understanding of the function, of the different organ systems,
- demonstrate an understanding of the body region and of the different organ systems (topographic anatomy),
- demonstrate the appropriate oral communication skills involved in peer teaching of anatomy,
- know the basic clinical skills required to approach clinical anatomy: this course provides students with skills to prepare for clinical or health-related careers.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
The second semester focuses on topographical/systemic gross anatomy of the head, neck and body cavities (thorax, abdomen, pelvis, the four quadrants and nine descriptive regions of the abdomen in relation to underlying organs), cross sectional anatomy and corresponding embryology (lectures on the development of the organs and functional systems precede gross anatomical presentations and include frequently occurring malformations). During this semester the students will be introduced to the normal structure (including anatomical variants) and development of the gastrointestinal system and to the morphological basis of the function of the following systems:
Gastrointestinal system
Description of the major features of the oral cavity including the teeth, tongue, soft and hard palate.
Description of the salivary glands (parotid, submandibular and sublingual).
Description of the structure of the oesophagus.
Description of the relationship of the abdominal organs to the peritoneum (parietal and visceral layers) and the mesenteries.
Description of the regions of the stomach.
Description of the major sphincters of the gastrointestinal system in relation to their associated structures (oesophageal sphincter, cardiac sphincter, pyloric sphincter, ileocaecal sphincter, hepato‐pancreatic sphincter, anal sphincters).
Description of the constituent parts of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum) and the large intestine (caecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum and anus).
Description of the lobes and major ligaments of the liver, the anatomy of the gallbladder, the anatomy of the pancreas and its associated ducts, and their position relative to the intestines.
Respiratory system
Description of the joints and muscles of respiration (accessory and intercostal muscles and thoracic joints, i.e. components of the sternum, ribs and costal cartilage articulations) and examine their contribution to the mechanism of breathing.
Description of the major features of the external nose, the nasal cavity, the pharynx, the larynx and the trachea.
Description of the major features of the diaphragm, pleural layers and the lungs (lobes and fissures of the right and left lungs; bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli; surface landmarks).
Identify and describe the course and role of the phrenic nerve in maintaining normal breathing.
Urinary system
Description of the main differences between the male and female urinary systems.
Description of the position of the kidneys and adrenal glands in relation to adjacent structures.
Description of the external and internal structure of the kidney and the relationship to the associated structures.
Description of the position of the bladder relative to associated structures in males and females (including during pregnancy).
Reproductive system
Differences between the male and female reproductive systems (organs, glands, external genitalia and pelvic characteristics).
Description of the anatomy of the pelvic diaphragm and perineum and their relationship to the neurovascular structures that supply these regions in males and females.
Structure and composition of the breast.
Identify the major endocrine structures (hypothalamus, anterior and posterior lobes of the pituitary gland, pineal gland thyroid gland and parathyroid glands, thymus, adrenal gland, pancreas, gonads, skin, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract).
Cardiovascular system
Description of the position of the heart in the mediastinum relative to the associated structures.
Description of the atrial and ventricular chambers of the heart (macroscopic and functional features), the specialized conduction network, and the fibrous and serous layers of the pericardium; structure and location of the valves of the heart.
Description of the origin, course and main branches of the left and right coronary arteries and describe their location relative to the heart and the general area of the heart that they supply.
Structure of arteries, veins and capillaries.
Description of the structures of the pulmonary and systematic circulation.
Description of the course and important relationships of the major arteries and veins of the trunk, with emphasis on the aorta, superior vena cava and inferior vena cava, their major branches and associated pulse points.
Description of the deep and superficial veins and outline the course of the main veins of the upper limb and lower limb.
Description of the blood supply and venous drainage of the brain and its association to the great vessels of the heart and neck.
Description of the hepatic portal‐venous system.
Lymphatic system
Description of the drainage of lymph throughout the body.
Description of the primary (bone marrow & thymus) and secondary lymphoid (lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils and appendix) organs and tissues of the lymphatic system.
Prerequisites for admission
Students must have got a basic knowledge of Cytology, Histology and Cellular Biology.
To take the oral exam, the student must have passed the exam of Histology and Microscopic Anatomy.
Teaching methods
The course of anatomy takes place in a 6-year-degree course and it is organized in three semesters. Two semesters take place in the first academic year, the third in the second academic year.
- Lectures on concepts, anatomical organization, surface anatomy, sectional anatomy, variations. Lectures focus on a general introduction to anatomy and its terminology. A mixed topographical-systemic anatomy approach is applied to the limbs, head and neck, and to the organs of the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, and perineum (respiratory, endocrine, circulatory, gastrointestinal, and urogenital systems). Neuroanatomy is a fully developed unit.
- Use of plastic models in the anatomy class to show internal organ relationships and to allow students to repeatedly study a specimen. During these the students work in peer groups and are supported by the Anatomy teacher and by peer teaching or near-peer teaching assistants (i.e., medical students who have already passed the anatomy program, and are still in their medical school training). Although plastic models associated to low-fidelity, they teach three-dimensional comprehension and anatomical reasoning, by showing the spatial relationship of the structures, which strongly correspond to the human body.
- Video acquisitions during classic or laparoscopic surgery have been introduced to underline anatomical concepts and to transpose them into a clinical setting. Each video is followed by a discussion with the students involving surgeons, endoscopists and anatomy teacher.
- During the course, groups of students (five to eight students) are solicited to elaborate under anatomy teacher supervision a presentation on an anatomical topic relevant to lecture content and derived from an article featured in scientific literature, focused around both clinical and scientific problems and to present them as lecture to the rest of the class (i.e., power point presentation). Anatomy teacher supervised the elaboration of students' lectures, in order to provide an appropriate guidance and motivation to students on how to improve their performance (quality of the report, level and fluency of oral presentation and ability to carry out literature search).
- We have developed a dissection program that we carried out during the second semester. Students participate in small groups (three to four students) to dissection laboratory of selected animal organs (heart, kidney, lung, liver) under the supervision by fourth/fifth-year tutors, who have already passed the anatomy exam. Every dissection is preceded by a brief introduction drawn up by the tutors to get the attraction of the students on the critical anatomical features that have been given during the lectures. After this peer-teaching dissection, students performed a personal dissection on similar organs. To ensure continuity in the didactic activities, the same tutors are also involved in the exercitations on physical models.
- We have started a pilot study with a selected group of first and second-year medical students where they learn to explore and create 3D visceral organ reconstruction alongside various CT cross-sectional slices of the neck, thorax and abdomen to describe patient specific anatomy. During this pilot study, the students: 1) apply their basic anatomy knowledge to identify anatomical structures in the radiological image; 2) learn to use open-source software for imaging elaboration. Lastly, 3D scenes will be loaded in a Immersive Virtual Reality setting on an App that we have developed using head-mounted displays with tracker and coupled with a Smartphone.
Teaching Resources
- Anatomia del Gray - Le basi anatomiche per la pratica clinica - di Gray - Susan Stranding · 2017
- Trattato di Anatomia Umana e Anatomia Topografica - Anatomy Bag e Risorse Digitali su Piattaforma Virtual Campus di Anastasi et al, Ed 2019
- Lo sviluppo prenatale dell'uomo. Embriologia ad orientamento clinico (Italiano X Ed.) 2017 di Keith L. Moore, T. V. Persaud, Mark G. Torchia
- Neuroanatomia nel contesto clinico - Atlante Strutture, sezioni, sistemi e sindromi 9a Edizione americana, Autore/i Duane E. Haines, Edizione italiana a cura di Maurizio Vertemati
- Fitzgerald - Neuroanatomia con riferimenti funzionali e clinici (VII Ed), Mtui E., Gruener G., Dockery P.
- Netter Atlante di Anatomia Umana VI Ed, di Netter F.H.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam (oral) is held at the end of the Macroscopic Human Morphology Course which takes place in three semesters: first and second semester of the first year and first semester of the second year.
To pass the exam, which validates the acquisition of the credits attributed to the Course, the following tests must be passed:
- Preliminary written test, preparatory to admission to the oral test: it consists of answering a set of multiple-choice quizzes relating to the entire exam program (except for students who have passed the ongoing test on the Locomotor System described below), distributed among the various topics in proportion to their relevance. For this test 40 quizzes are provided, each comprising five answers that can be true or false independently of each other. The correction is carried out automatically, by optical reading of a form filled in by the candidates.
Passing the quiz test allows, in the same session and only in that one, access to the oral exam. If the oral exam is not passed, the student must take the quiz test again, even in the case of sessions with more than one exam.
The test lasts 90 minutes.
The test is considered passed when the condition is satisfied:
t = 5 * N - e ≥ 46 where:
- N = number of quizzes in which all five questions were answered correctly
- e = number of incorrect questions.

N= 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
e≤ 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

- Oral exam: it consists of an interview on the topics of the entire program, namely Locomotor (except for students who have passed the ongoing test on the Locomotor System as described below), Splanchnology, Neuroanatomy, Embryology, Topographic Anatomy. The oral exam must be carried out within the same exam datein which the preliminary quiz test is taken.
If the student who has passed the ongoing test on the Locomotor System does not pass the oral exam, the ongoing test validity will expire for the remaining session, hence the student will have to take the quiz on the whole course program before trying again the oral exam

There is an optional ongoing test concerning the Locomotor System (Generalities, Bones, Joints and Muscles). For this test 40 quizzes are provided, each comprising five answers that can be true or false independently of each other. The correction is carried out automatically, by optical reading of a form filled in by the candidates.
This ongoing test will be taken at the beginning of the first semester of the second year and, in any case, notified in advance to students.
The test is considered passed when the condition is satisfied:
t = 5 * N - e ≥ 46 where:
- N = number of quizzes in which all five questions were answered correctly
- e = number of incorrect questions.

N= 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
e≤ 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

The test lasts 60 minutes.
Passing the test allows the exemption of the part concerning the arguments of Locomotor System from the preliminary quiz test and from the oral exam.
The validity of this ongoing test is for all exam sessions (7) subsequent to the end of the Course and relative to the current academic year.
BIO/16 - HUMAN ANATOMY - University credits: 13
Practicals: 32 hours
Lessons: 132 hours
Educational website(s)
appointment by e-mail
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche per la Salute - via Mangiagalli 31, Milano