Principles of Physiology for the Anaesthetist

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Taylor and Francis

Book Cover

Digital (delivered electronically)

Publishing Date




About The Author

Peter Kam

This book provides readers with an anaesthesia-focused alternative to general physiology textbooks. The new edition has been reorganised with the trainee anaesthesist in mind, into shorter bite-sized chapters ideal for exam revision.  The content includes the physiology of all major organ systems, with specific emphasis on the nervous, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems as well as special sections on pain, aging, specific environments and obesity.  Alongside the learning objectives, reflection points and a handy summary of physiological equations and tables, there is greater emphasis on clinical application in this fourth edition, with applied physiology included in almost every section.

Preface to the first edition

Preface to the second edition

Preface to the third edition

Preface to fourth edition





Section One: Basic Cell Physiology


1. Cell Components and Function

2. Physiology of Excitable Cells

3. Neurotransmitters and Receptors, Ion Channels, G Proteins and Second Messengers


Section Two: Physiology of the Nervous System


4. Neuronal Function

5. Blood–Brain Barrier and Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)

6. Cerebral Circulation

7. Spinal Cord: Anatomical and Physiological Features

8. Sensory System

9. Motor Function and Control: Descending Tracts

10. Autonomic Nervous System

11. Consciousness, EEG, Sleep and Emotions


Section Three: Muscle Physiology


12. Striated Muscles: Skeletal and Cardiac Muscles

13. Muscle Spindles, Golgi Tendon Organs and Spinal Reflexes

14. Smooth Muscle


Section Four: Respiratory Physiology


15. Functions of the Respiratory System

16. Mechanical Properties of the Lungs

17. Gas Exchange in the Lungs

18. Carriage of Oxygen in Blood

19. Carbon Dioxide Carriage in Blood

20. Pulmonary Circulation

21. Control of Ventilation

22. Applied Respiratory Physiology


Section Five: Cardiovascular Physiology


23. Functions of the Cardiovascular System

24. Electrical Properties of the Heart

25. Mechanical Events of the Cardiac Cycle

26. Pressure–Volume Loop of the Left Ventricle

27. Physical Factors Governing Blood Flow Through Vessels

28. The Systemic Circulation

29. Microcirculation

30. Venous Return and Vascular Function

31. Regulation of Arterial Blood Pressure

32. Integrated Cardiovascular Responses


Section Six: Gastrointestinal Physiology


33. Saliva, Swallowing, and Lower Oesophageal Sphincter

34. Stomach: Gastric Secretions, Motility, Digestion and Vomiting

35. The Small Intestine: Secretions, Digestion and Motility

36. The Large Intestine


Section Seven: Liver Physiology


37. Functions of the Liver

38. Liver Blood Flow

39. Liver Function Tests and Physiological Features of Liver Failure


Section Eight: Renal Physiology


40. Functions of the Kidneys and Functional Anatomy

41. Renal Blood Flow

42. Glomerular Filtration

43. Tubular Function

44. The Loop of Henle and Production of Concentrated Urine: Counter-Current Mechanisms of the Kidney

45. Overview of Renal Control of Acid–Base Balance

46. Applied Physiology: Renal Failure


Section Nine: Acid–Base Physiology


47. Basic Concepts of Acid–Base Physiology

48. Compensatory Mechanisms in Acid–Base Disorders

49. Clinical Aspects of Acid–Base Control

50. Anion Gap and Stewart’s Strong Ion Difference


Section Ten: Physiology of Blood


51. Cellular Components of Blood

52. Plasma: The Non-Cellular Components of Blood

53. Haemostasis

54. Blood Transfusion


Section Eleven: Physiology of the Immune System


55. Immune System and Innate Immunity

56. Acquired Immunity

57. Cytokines

58. Hypersensitivity


Section Twelve: Endocrine Physiology


59. General Aspects of Endocrine Physiology

60. Pituitary Gland

61. Hormones of the Pancreas

62. Thyroid Hormones and Calcium Metabolism

63. Hormones of the Adrenal Gland

64. Erythropoietin, Atrial Natriuretic Peptide and Sex Hormones


Section Thirteen: Metabolism, Nutrition, Exercise and Temperature Regulation


65. Metabolism

66. Nutrition

67. Exercise Physiology

68. Temperature Regulation


Section Fourteen: Physiology of Pain


69. Peripheral Mechanisms of Pain

70. Central Modulation of Pain

71. Pain Sensitization


Section Fifteen: Physiology of Pregnancy, Placenta, Neonate, Ageing and Obesity


72. Physiology of Pregnancy

73. Physiology of the Placenta

74. Physiology of the Neonate

75. Physiology of Ageing

76. Physiology of Obesity


Section Sixteen: Special Environments


77. Physiology Related to Special Environments


Further reading





Nuffield Professor of Anaesthetics, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Camperdown, Australia



Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom