Author: William K. Ovalle & Patrick C. Nahirney
Publisher: Saunders Elsevier, 2007
2007; 233 flash cards; $34.95
This set of glossy 4” x 6” flash cards, intended as a study tool for medical and other health professions students, is the only set of histology flash cards so far on the market. The set is organized in two sections: Cells and Tissues (74 cards) and Systems (149 cards). Each card has illustrations on one side, with numbered arrows to relevant structures. On the reverse, names corresponding to the numbers are given, as well as a brief comment describing the structure(s), a clinical note on the same or a related topic, and a cross-reference to Netter’s Essential Histology, a text by the same authors. About 25% of the illustrations are Netter diagrams, more than half are micrographs (about 20% are electron micrographs), and the rest are diagrams by other artists.
The illustrations are generally of exceptionally high quality and beautifully organized, and the content is, on the whole, accurate and relevant. The level of detail sometimes errs on the side of not enough. For example: under cytoskeleton, only microtubules are discussed, actin and intermediate filaments are not mentioned; within the nervous system, there is no card for glial cells and oligodendrocytes are not mentioned; under pituitary, posterior pituitary hormones are given, but anterior pituitary hormones are not listed.
There is a scattering of grammatical and typographical errors, as well as some inaccuracies in content. For example, blood testis barrier is not mentioned with testis, but is mentioned with tight capillaries, suggesting the barrier is formed by capillaries rather than Sertoli cells; baldness is described as hair follicles ceasing to be formed rather than as a change in hair growth cycle; woven bone is said to be replaced by lamellar bone by age four; hepatic sinusoids are said to be drained by terminal branches of hepatic arteries and portal veins rather than fed by them; anaphylaxis is said to involve antibodies to IgE rather than IgE antibodies; Huntington’s disease is given as a clinical example with cerebellum although it is not a cerebellar disease.
The clinical notes frequently increase the relevance and interest of the topic on the card, but there are missed opportunities to use the notes to deepen understanding of histology. For example, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is used with cardiac muscle. Myocardial infarction would be better and could mention inability to regenerate cardiac muscle, thus making an extremely important clinical point while also bringing up the absence of satellite cells. Whipple’s disease is used with macrophages rather than something more illustrative of macrophage function, such as heart failure cells in lung. In the description of liver acinus, viral causes of hepatitis are listed; better to mention a zonal pathology, such as in acetaminophen poisoning.
Having made these observations, I would stress that the overall impression of the cards is very strongly positive. The authors are to be commended for producing an excellent study tool for contemporary integrated curricula.
Reviewer: Helen Amerongen, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Arizona College of Medicine
Review Date: March 2008