Color Atlas of Histology 5th Edition

by: L.P. Gartner and J.L. Hiatt, Wolters Kluwer
459 pp., $68.95

This atlas is intended for basic histology courses in medical, dental, allied health and biology curricula. The new edition includes supplementary online resources for students and instructors, including a full set of illustrations and a test item bank. These are not discussed since the resources were unavailable at the time of this review.

The book follows the current trend of providing the thorough illustrative content of an atlas, supplemented with textual material such that for some courses it may be suffcient as a stand-alone text. It is coil- bound, making it very practical for use in the laboratory.

The abundant illustrations include color diagrams, as well as light and electron micrographs, mostly of very high quality. Many of the light micrographs are from plastic- embedded tissue and hence show greater cellular detail than is commonly illustrated in comparable texts. Content is presented in the classic order, beginning with a very brief cell biology overview followed by tissue types, including presentation of cartilage, bone, and blood within connective tissue. The level of textual detail is low, as is appropriate for an atlas, with an emphasis on repetition rather than depth. Within each chapter, content is organized into seven sections: overview, description of histology, color diagrams, description of histophysiology, clinical considerations, light and electron micrographs with detailed fgure legends, and summary of histology.

In the histophysiology section, much of the same content presented in the histology section is repeated, with some functional information added. The same content may again be repeated in the fgure legends and again in the summary. In each chapter, some illustrations from the color diagrams section are included again with the fgure legends to the micrographs. The considerable repetition of content from one section to another within each chapter likely facilitates memorization. It does, however, make it diffcult to effciently study all the content on any particular topic. Also, contrary to more recent curricular trends, the organization does not present each chapter as an integrated whole.

There is non-standard terminology used in places. Some examples include: with reference to epithelia, basal membrane is used to mean basement membrane; in the kidney, glomerular basement membrane is not used and this structure is referred to simply as basal lamina; epithelial membrane is used to mean epithelium; the outdated term neurokeratin is used to designate the remnants of the myelin sheath in some tissue preparations.

The Clinical Considerations section of each chapter could be better used for illuminating points of histology. For example, in the respiratory system, asthma is given as an example and some clinical details are described, but there is no mention of goblet cell and smooth muscle hyperplasia. For blood vessels, atherosclerosis is listed without any description of the tunics involved. Likewise, Crohn’s disease is given as an example for digestive system, but it is not described in histological terms. A comparison of Crohn’s disease with ulcerative colitis could make an important point about the relevance of knowing GI layers.

Overall, the great strength of this work is its high quality illustrations. These make the book a very good atlas. However, organization, clinical examples, and, in some places, terminology could be improved to make this popular title even better.


Helen Amerongen, Ph.D.,Research Assistant Professor
Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
University of Arizona College of Medicine

December 2009

  Reviewer Review Date
American Association of Anatomists

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