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Anatomy for anaesthetists

The Primary ( ) and Final () FRCA examinations require an extensive knowledge of anatomy. We have therefore written a new educational resource section on this subject. The tutorials have been tailored to the FRCA syllabus and we have also added some past questions relevant to these topics.

Read other sections by using the navigation bar on the right side of every page. 

 Primary FRCA Syllabus


  Anatomy of the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, fetal circulation, nervous system, cervical plexus, brachial plexus, nerves of arm, intercostal nerves, lumbar plexus, nerves of abdominal wall, Sacral and coccygeal plexuses, nerves of leg. Autonomic nervous system, sympathetic innervation, sympathetic chain, ganglia and plexuses, stellate ganglion. Parasympathetic innervation. Coeliac plexus, cranial nerves, trigeminal ganglion, vertebral column; Cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, Sacrum, sacral hiatus and ligaments of vertebral column.

Areas of special interest:
Base of skull, thoracic inlet and 1st rib, intercostal spaces including paravertebral space, abdominal wall (including the inguinal region), antecubital fossa, large veins of neck, large veins of leg, diaphragm, anatomy of tracheostomy, cricothyrotomy, eye and orbit and axilla.

Q. Primary OSCE Question

Describe the anatomy of the antecubital fossa. What nerves can be blocked here?


 Final FRCA Syllabus

Applied Anatomy

 Candidates should be able to demonstrate a good understanding of human anatomy relevant to the practice of anaesthesia. The syllabus for the Primary FRCA examination is considered core knowledge. For the Final FRCA examination, application of this knowledge to clinical practice will be explored. This will include the knowledge of anatomy as demonstrated by endoscopic and imaging techniques.

Q. Short Answer Question

Final FRCA SAQ 20th May 2003

Briefly describe the normal anatomy of the right internal jugular vein (including its important relationships).  What anatomical abnormalities of this vein can make cannulation hazardous or impossible? Outline the risks associated with cannulation of this vessel and how they can be minimised.

Q. Final Viva Question

Describe the anatomy of the spinal cord. Discuss the blood supply, and tracts of the spinal cord. What layers are encountered when performing an epidural? decribe different approaches for performing an epidural, describe the anatomy of a thoracic vertebra.

Anatomy articles

Applied anatomy for upper limb blocks
Spinal cord
Anatomy relevant to epidural and subarachnoid blockade
Cervical plexuses
The cubital fossa

Areas of special interest

 Large veins of neck
 Anatomy of tracheostomy

Note: due to the high quality images in some of these articles, you may find that they take some time to load (especially over a slow connection).

These articles have been written by John Craven and are copyright © 2004 The Medicine Publishing Company Ltd.

John Craven was formerly Consultant Surgeon at York District Hospital, York, UK. He trained in Manchester, Uganda and Cardiff. He is past chairman of the primary examiners of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

If you find these articles useful and would like to subscribe to receive more articles then you may order Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine online.


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