Anatomy vs Physiology | The Differences and Significance

Anatomy and physiology are the two important aspects of the study of an organism.

One is not complete without the study of another.

They are completely inter-related systems in the body. But one is related to structure and other is related to function.

Anatomy deals with structure form minute levels to the macro-levels. Similarly, physiology also exists from minute levels to the macro-levels.

Though they are different, one has to study them together as human anatomy and physiology.

But understanding the differences and similarities will help us grasp the subject better.

Anatomy vs Physiology

Feature / RoleAnatomy Physiology
Concerned with The structure and appearance The functions, activity and performance
Can be StudiedIndividually or specifically like the heart anatomy, liver anatomy, lung anatomy etc.Can be studied individually but is incomplete without connecting with other physiology
Study methodIndividually or specifically like the heart anatomy, liver anatomy, lung anatomy etc.Can be studied individually but is incomplete without connecting with other physiology
Depth of studyAnatomy appears simple and limited but it is very complex to studyPhysiology appears complex but it is simple and a limited study
Range of studyAnatomy extends from micro to macro and also takes into consideration of each part and cell organellePhysiology also extends from micro to macro but the details are so specific and limited
Protective mechanism and safe guards byReflex actionsHomeostasis
DiseasesLess disease due to anatomical derangementMany disease due to physiological derangement
InjuriesPhysical injury cause damage to anatomy.Mostly mental injuries cause damage to physiology
Explanation / demonstrationBy specimens, histology, size, shape, etc.By biochemical analysis, measurement of pulse, blood pressure etc.
Replacement / substitutesAnatomical damages to some extent can be managed without deathPhysiological damage would lead to death and rarely be replaced.
Repair can be done byCellular, tissue or organ replacementRepair can be done only by substituents like nutrition, vitamins, hormones, enzymes etc.
For studentAnatomy is hard to remember and studyPhysiology is easier comparatively to remember and study

1. Anatomy is more about the structure, appearance, shape, and organization of an animal. It describes the cell, cell structure, cell organelles. There are many types of anatomy.
Further, tissues, organs, organ systems, and the whole body.

Anatomy vs Physiology

On the other hand, physiology describes the functioning and mechanism of the above-mentioned structures in detail. It also describes what is their ultimate contrition to the living organism.

2. Each organ or structure can be studied individually. In a cell, we can study the structure of the nucleus, mitochondria, ribosomes etc. In the organ, we can study the structure of tissues their arrangements etc. In the whole body, we will be described the arrangement of various organs at different locations and their connections with other systems. But, eventually, we will be detailed about each and every element with reference to shape, size, color, texture, location etc.

But, for physiology, this becomes simplified as to what specific function these anatomical entities play. Overall how they would relate to each other towards one specific goal i.e. life.

3. The anatomy looks simple, limited and easier. But, it is very vast, complex and takes a long time to study. It is even harder to remember the structures unless one knows the diagram.

anatomy vs physiology-ear anatomy
Anatomy of ear

But physiology, though it appears complex is very specific and limited in detail. One could easily remember physiology than the anatomy.

In the above ear anatomy diagram, there are many anatomical parts. But there are only two physiological functions. One is for hearing and conducting sound to the body. The other function is giving balance to the body.

But, by structure, it looks very complex.

4. Anatomy of the is not always disturbed by diseases. But almost all the disease affect the physiology. So, to be healthy, physiology should be intact and this is supported by homeostasis.

5. Physical injuries lead to damage to body parts. While physiology is damaged mostly by mental trauma, stress.

6. Anatomical damages always do not lead to death. But most of the physiology damages could lead to death.

7. Anatomy repairs are done by replacement, surgical procedures. But disturbed physiology is repaired by supplements like nutrition, vitamins, hormones, enzymes etc.

8. Anatomy is assessed by shape, size, color etc. Physiology is assessed by rate (like heart rate), biochemical changes in the body fluids etc.

9. Reflex actions prevent damage to anatomy. While homeostasis prevents damage to body physiology.

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