Clinical Neuroanatomy

Author: Richard S. Snell

Publisher: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott and Wilkins, 2010

7th edition 542 pp + index, $67.95


Clinical Anatomy is a compact volume arranged by chapters beginning with introductory material on the organization of the nervous system, the neurobiology of neurons, nerve fibers, receptors and muscle function, proceeding through the spinal cord, the regions of the brain, and functional systems, and ending with a chapter on the development of the nervous system. Important words and concepts are indicated by heavy bolding, which certainly is clear, but does make the text seem a little busy. The text is supported with copious illustrations that, while not particularly artistic, are also clear. A major strength of the text is that each chapter ends with several clinical solving problems and review questions with answers and explanations.

In contrast to many other neuroanatomy texts, Clinical Neuroanatomy has a single author with no contributors other than a few mentioned in the acknowledgements. The neuroanatomy texts I am most acquainted with have several authors and sometimes several editors, which is expected considering the complex mature of the subject. This text is described by the author as containing the basic neuroanatomical facts necessary for the practice of medicine with factual material strictly limited to that which is clinically important and thus useful to residents as a quick reference to essential facts. The title, however, might lead one to think it could be a text for use in a clinical neuroanatomy course in medical school. These two purposes are not necessarily compatible.

As a test of its utility, I used the text as a reference while revising my lectures in two neuroscience courses in which I participate. I discovered a number of omissions that led me to question the book’s usefulness as the sole text for a medical school neuroanatomy or neuroscience course. I could find no description of the vestibular fibers usually called the medial vestibulospinal tract or sometimes included in the medial longitudinal fasciculus. The fibers usually described as the lateral vestibulospinal tract are simply referred to as the vestibulospinal tract. Figure 11-9 illustrating the cutaneous territories of the divisions of the trigeminal nerve implies that the ophthalmic nerve innervates the skin of the lower eyelid and most of the nose and there is no description in the text to correct the impression. Figure 11-24 illustrating lesions of the optic pathways show no quadrantanopsias, nor are they described in the text. Considering the compactness of the text and these omissions, which were noted with little effort, I suggest that this volume is best suited as a review text for boards or a quick reference with caveats in the areas mentioned.



Reviewer: Bruce L. Manion, Ph.D. Professor and Chair, Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences, Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Review Date: June 2009

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