- Acland's Video Atlas of Human Anatomy

Author: Robert Acland

Publisher:  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010

(online program access, subscription pricing varies)

Due to an ever-growing demand for accessible information and advanced technology in the classroom, Acland Video Atlas of Human Anatomy has changed formats from DVD to a new high-quality streaming video website (  This new version of Acland’s classic dissection DVD set allows for greater accessibility, navigability, and freedom to explore topics in anatomy. 

With an online subscription and mid-speed internet connection, instructors and students have unlimited access to streaming anatomy videos that are divided into five volumes – Upper Extremity;  Lower Extremity; Trunk; Head and Neck; and Internal Organs.  Each volume is subdivided into shorter videos to make navigation easier.  This is an improvement from the DVD format, which required viewers to watch lengthy videos to find specific images and information.  Introduction and Review videos are also included in each volume to help students orient to and synthesize new information.  The online format allows viewers to search video content by using a search box, an A-Z index, and drop-down menus for each volume.  These search tools allow for efficient and effective learning with very little effort.  Viewers can also search a glossary to better understand the origin and meaning of new anatomical terminology.  Overall, navigation through this website is intuitive and simple, especially for tech-savvy students and faculty.

One nice feature of the online format is that the viewer has complete control over the pace of learning while watching the videos.  Once done watching one video, the viewer can directly access the “previous” or “next” video in that section, making the learning experience more streamlined.  Viewers can save their favorite videos by clicking “Add to Favorites,” allowing easy access for future review.  The original narration by Acland remains in this version, with new additional voice-over corrections and comments.  Each video also has a PDF transcript of the narration that can be accessed and printed, if desired.  This combination of video, narration, and text caters to all different types of learners.

The only potential limitation is the video image quality, which may deter viewers who are used to watching everything in a high-definition format.  I find the videos perfectly suitable and clear, despite the resolution.  What the dissection videos may lack in high-definition, they make up for in content and presentation.  Three-dimensional views were created by rotating the camera around meticulously dissected, fresh specimens set against a black background.  The videos show real movements of muscles, tendons, and joints along with clearly labeled bony origins/insertions for each muscle discussed.  Complex anatomical regions and relationships are taught by building up structures to understand the foundation first (i.e., osteology) and then structures that are built upon it. 

Overall, can be used as a complimentary or stand-alone educational tool, appropriate for use in medical, dental, and allied health professional curricula, as well as in the clinical setting.  While cadaver dissection remains the gold standard for teaching anatomy, these videos provide a unique three-dimensional look at anatomy when dissection may not be available or time- and cost- effective.


Reviewer: Kelly M. Warren, Ph.D., MPT, Teaching Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina Univ.

Date of Review: September 2011

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