Color Atlas of Human Anatomy, Vol. 1. Locomotor System, 6th Ed.

Author: W. Platzer

Publisher: Thieme, 2009

x + 468 pp., $39.95


There are a number of fine anatomy atlases on the market today, nearly all of them featuring photographs or photorealistic paintings. This one is different, however. It contains only diagrams and line drawings with varying amounts of color. One may wonder what appeal a book like this would have in comparison with the impressive and even beautiful illustrations in other atlases, including the recent series from Thieme, which also published this volume. Yet appeal there must be, for this is the sixth English edition since 1978 and it is available in seventeen languages.

I think the answer is that the figures, while simplified, are clear and anatomically accurate, and the book as a whole is quite complete. The structures displayed in each drawing are isolated much as they would be in a museum preparation so that, for example, the muscles are drawn in correct relation and proportion to the underlying bones, uncomplicated by other tissues in the region. Thus, it is easy for a student – or anybody who needs to quickly review such relationships – to get right to the point. Only the last chapter, Peripheral Pathways, comprises drawings in which the muscles are shown in relation to vessels, nerves, and lymph nodes. This is not a dissection atlas. Its value comes as a tool for extracting structures from their surrounding complexity so they can be studied individually.

When the book is opened, each two-page spread has figures on the right side and text on the left. The text is actually quite detailed, going so far as to include common variations. Each structure or feature mentioned in the description is given a number and pointed out by a numbered leader line in the opposing figure.

There are six chapters to the book. The first, General Anatomy, covers the cells, tissues, organs, and organ assemblies of the locomotor system. The second through fifth chapters are Trunk, Upper Limb, Lower Limb, and Head and Neck. Each begins with the bones and joints of the region, followed by the muscles and fasciae.  As mentioned, the last chapter is Peripheral Pathways or Topography of Peripheral Nerves and Vessels. Here, colored line drawings deal with isolated subregions of the four body sections showing the neurovascular organs in relation to each other and to the musculoskeletal structures.

Reflecting the increased emphasis given to the clinical importance of anatomy in medical curricula, the number of Clinical Tips, interesting practical applications of anatomy given in text boxes on the description page, has been increased.

In sum, this is a combination text/atlas that will serve both as an aid to students in any field where they must learn anatomy and as a quick reference for more advanced people who need to refresh some information quickly.


Reviewer: Bruce Elliot Hirsch, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dept. of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine

Review Date: March 2009

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