5 Difference between Anatomy and Physiology (With Table)

Both anatomy and physiology are medical fields. Many people usually use these medical fields interchangeably due to misinformation. 

But these medical fields are quite important in biology. The dissection of living organisms helps us to understand their anatomy.  The procedure makes it easier to understand the physiology of a particular organism. 

These medical fields are dependent on each other. The knowledge of these subjects is crucial in understanding these medical fields. This is the source of confusion when people are using these terms. 

So, what is the main difference between anatomy and physiology? The former is the study of animals and plants’ structure while the latter is the study of functions and activities of body parts. 

Anatomy and physiology are studied together. These medical fields are incomplete without each other. This article provides further differences between anatomy and physiology with examples.

Comparison Table (Anatomy vs Physiology)

Basic Terms




It is a field of medical study that teaches about the body structures of living organisms.

It is a field of medical study that teaches about body parts’ functions and their coordination.


Can be done on both dead and living things

Can be done on living things only.


Study the body organs, overall structures, and muscles.

Focus on how different functions are carried out in the body.  


Help in teaching people about various body organs.

Help in teaching people how various functions are carried out in the body.


Study of the heart anatomy deals with arteries and veins

The study of heart physiology deals with understanding how the heart pumps blood to various parts of the body.

What Is Anatomy?

Anatomy is the branch of biology that deals with the study of the identification and description of body structures of living organisms. The study of human parts is known as human anatomy.

Anatomy is further grouped into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy deals with the study of body structures that can be seen by naked eyes.

On the other hand, microscopic anatomy deals with body structures that cannot be seen with naked eyes due to their minute nature.

What Is Physiology?

Physiology is the branch of biology that deals with the study of different parts and organs of a living organism.

It helps to explain how various organs, cells, and systems of the body function as well as relate to each other.

Some of the common terms studied under this branch of biology are cardiovascular, respiratory, and urogenital.

It is further divided into animal, plant, microscopic, comparative, development, and practical physiology.

All the processes studied under physiology are critical and this is the reason behind the emergence of many subspecialties.

Main Differences between Anatomy and Physiology  

  1. Anatomy is a kind of static research study that entails observation of both internal and external structures while physiology is a dynamic study that entails the study of functions of different structures like digestion.
  2. Anatomy can analyze parts of both living organisms and dead while physiology analyzes the structures of living beings only.
  3. Anatomy deals with the study of structures and different parts of the body while physiology deals with the working of different parts and their role.
  4. Anatomy focuses only on the size, shape, and location of body structures while physiology focuses on the chemical, electrical, and physical processes of the body structures.

Similarities between Anatomy and Physiology

  1. Both are two branches of biology
  2. Both deal with the study of body structures, form, and function
  3. Both deal with human organisms.

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 The two branches of biology are quite vital in the medicine disciple. They help differentiate between the body structures and their functions in the body.

Understanding the core difference between anatomy and physiology is quite important when studying biology or medicine.

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