Gray's Atlas of Anatomy

Author: Richard Drake,  Wayne Vogl, Adam W. M. Mitchell, Richard Tibbitts and Paul Richardso

Publisher: Churchill Livingstone, 2007

576 pp.,, 1395 illustrations, $74.95


 What makes a good gross anatomy atlas?  While opinions will vary, some things that all would most likely agree on would include good quality images, easy to find illustrations, and accurate and appropriate labeling.  Gray’s Atlas of Anatomy does a good job of hitting those marks.  Produced as a companion to Gray’s Anatomy for Students, the atlas contains good quality artwork similar to what is in the textbook, though much of it was drawn specifically for the atlas.

This atlas is organized into traditional regions of the body.  Each regional section begins with surface anatomy followed by bony anatomy of the area, though in the extremity sections the osteology is parceled out through the section as one comes to that particular area.  In general, the atlas then progresses from superficial to deep, or proximal to distal.  The artwork is very clean and well done.  There is always a tension in the artwork used in an atlas between looking realistic versus being more art-like to allow easy identification of structures.  This text leans toward the latter; the quality is very pleasing.  There is extensive correlation with medical imaging including CT, MRI, arteriograms, and radiographs.  There is liberal use of multiplanar and volume rendered reconstructions from CT scans.  All of the medical imaging is done on current state-of-the-art scanners, so it is of superb quality.

As is increasingly common, purchasing the atlas allows one access to a related Website,  The major content on the site is a collection of videos where an instructor points out structures on a prosected specimen.  Surface anatomy demonstrations are shown in another section, though this is not quite ready for prime time.  The offerings are limited, the labels sometimes overlap, and, in this reviewer’s experience, they sometimes had German subtitles transiently showing.  Sample questions for each region are provided in a USMLE type format.  Case studies are included as well, though they are organized alphabetically, not regionally.  My suspicion is that most students will peruse this site a few times, then seldom return.

This atlas is appropriate for any student taking a gross anatomy lab course.  It distinguishes itself from other atlases in its excellent imaging correlation and having just the right amount of labeling for this audience.  It is very complete in what is labeled, but it does not attempt to label everything and end up being a cluttered work that is too much for the student to contend with. 
In the end, part of what makes a good atlas is this:  Will students use it?  In passing it around to several of my current students for comments, a thumbs up was given by most.


Reviewer: Gary C. McCord, M.D., Associate Professor of  Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine

Review Date: March 2008

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