Head and Neck Anatomy for Dental Medicine, 1st edition

by: Eric W. Baker
372 pages, indexed; $64.95

The Head and Neck Anatomy for Dental Medicine (1st ed.) is a new offering in the growing Thieme atlas series, and is composed primarily of images from the three-volume Thieme Atlas of Anatomy by Michael Shuenke, Erik Schulte, and Udo Schumacher. The illustrations (by Markus Voll and Karl Wesker) are visually appealing and complete.

A new innovative feature of this atlas includes a chapter devoted to sectional anatomy supplemented by a series of MRIs, which highlights anatomy as seen in a clinical setting.
Each figure focuses on normal anatomy and is accompanied by an extensive description; more than 90 summary tables are located within the atlas. Overall, the strength of this atlas is its comprehensive coverage of head and neck anatomy, complemented by the quality of the artwork, which characterizes most Thieme atlas products.

The audience is specific to “first-year students of dental medicine taking a gross anatomy course,” although Baker suggests the text will also be useful for dental hygienists, dental assistants, otolaryngologists, speech pathologists, or anyone who deals “primarily with the head and neck.” Obviously, the atlas’s intent is to offer extensive coverage of the head and neck region, and it will be welcomed by course directors of stand-alone dental head and neck anatomy courses. However, many first-year dental students perform dissections within the thorax, abdomen, and upper limb, so purchasing another anatomy atlas with adequate coverage of these regions will be necessary.

The atlas is presented in large 9”x12” format, organized into 5 sections and14 chapters. Though the beginning of each section contains a table of contents of the figures in the section, the transition between chapters within each section is not clearly marked. Each two-page spread aims to cover subject matter in a self-contained study guide. An outstanding example of this is Figure 4.53, which highlights the neurovascular pathways through the skull base with an accompanying table succinctly summarizing these important structures. This figure characterizes many of the positive aspects of this atlas.

The strengths of this atlas are: 1) its focus on head and neck anatomy specific for first-year dental students; 2) the addition of basic neuroanatomy concepts, such as the sensory and motor pathways, often covered in dental head and neck anatomy courses; 3) the exquisite artwork; 4) the clinical correlations targeting high-yield information for the dental board examinations, such as premature closures of cranial sutures, the Le Fort classification of midfacial fractures, signs and symptoms of cranial nerve lesions, and systemic palpations of cervical lymph nodes; 5) the inclusion of clinical imaging within the sectional anatomy chapter, often a focus of dental gross anatomy courses; 6) schematic illustrations covering large concepts, such as the venous drainage of the head and neck and cranial nerve distribution; and 7) the previously mentioned two-page spread concept where specific topics are covered.

Areas where this atlas can improve in the next edition include: 1) many clinical correlations specific to dental students are not addressed, such as the spread of dental infections into the submandibular, submental, and sublingual spaces and a discussion of Ludwig’s angina, specific drainage areas of the submandibular and sublingual lymph nodes crucial for understanding spread of oral cancer, the role of the articular disc in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) movements, and the anatomy underlying dental anesthesia, including the administration of intraoral injections; 2) elimination of repetitive images throughout the atlas where topics, such as the TMJ and many of the cranial nerves, are discussed twice with the same figures, tables, and accompanying text; and 3) the focus on head and neck anatomy may limit the audience to dental students taking a stand-alone head and neck anatomy course.

The Head and Neck Anatomy for Dental Medicine atlas addresses the paucity of products specific to dental education, and fulfills its role in its coverage of head and neck anatomy. It will be a welcomed addition to the Thieme collection, though the inclusion of addition clinical correlations specific to dental head and neck anatomy will enhance the text. With most of these beautiful illustrations available in the more comprehensive Thieme’s Atlas of Anatomy textbook by Anne M. Gilroy, Brian R. MacPherson, and Lawrence M. Ross, dental students will have to rationalize the extra expense of purchasing an atlas specific to only to head and neck. However, for dental students taking a stand-alone head and anatomy course, this new atlas will fulfill most of their needs.


H. Wayne Lambert, Ph.D., associate professor,
Dept. of Neurobiology and Anatomy,
West Virginia University School of Medicine

June 2010

  Reviewer Review Date
American Association of Anatomists

9650 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3998
Tel: 301-634-7910 | Fax: 301-634-7965


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