Atlas of Anatomy

by: Patrick W. Tank and Thomas R. Gest 

417 pp. + index, $72.95

The Atlas of Anatomy is the frst edition of a very promising addition to the vast library of anatomy atlases. It has numerous features that make it unique among those currently available, and is very well worth consideration for use in a gross anatomy course for medical, dental, or allied health students.

This book presents anatomy from a regional perspective in a sequence that is often used in gross anatomy courses. The autonomic nervous system is presented as a system and the atlas provides a very detailed explanation of this complex topic. The atlas concludes with a comprehensive index.

The figures attract immediate attention, as they feature bright colors on a relatively uncluttered page. Each chapter begins with a complete list of its fgures. Then, the atlas presents the region as a student would dissect, from superfcial to deep. This sequence is followed by summary fgures. Thus, each chapter illustrates surface anatomy, followed by illustrations of progressively deeper dissection felds. In each illustration, the specimens are placed in the anatomical position and perspectives are always directly anterior, posterior, medial, or lateral.

There are no captions or text to explain the fgures and the labeling of the fgures is limited to only the most important structures. Taken together, the fgures seem uncluttered and easy to interpret for the student. These consistencies in the fgures make the essential information easily accessible to novice anatomy students, while not burdening them with extraneous material. However, this style may make the atlas unsuitable for the graduate anatomy student requiring more detail.

One of the most striking differences between this atlas and others is the effective use of a “ghosting technique,” where a structure passing deep to an overlying structure is still visible through that superfcial structure. While other atlases remove tissues in a layered fashion to expose deeper structures, the “ghosting technique” allows the student to maintain perspective because all tissue layers are visible. In my view, “ghosting” allows better illustration of the relationship between the deep and superfcial structures— relationships often left to the imagination of the readerin other atlases. This feature is especially effective when detailing the pathways of neural and vascular structures in the head and neck and pelvic regions of the atlas.

In addition to the printed atlas, students may access an online site, where all of the fgures are available in an interactive, electronic format. This allows students to search for images and compare features between images. Students can also use the interactive labeling exercises to test their knowledge of anatomy in preparation for examinations or National Boards.

In short, this is an atlas written to meet the needs of the millennial, computer-savvy individuals, who are now our students. While the level of detail in other atlases often exceeds that in the Atlas of Anatomy, the simple, but effective manner in which information is presented to the reader justifes purchase and use of this new book by both students and novice anatomy instructors.


Roger B. Johnson, D.D.S., Ph.D,Professor
Department of Anatomy
University of Mississippi Medical Center

December 2009

 ReviewerReview Date
American Association of Anatomists

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