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McMinn’s colour atlas of human anatomy
  1. R Highet

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    Edited by P H Abrahams, S C Marks Jr, R T Hutchings. London: Mosby, £38.99, pp 378, softcover. ISBN 0723432120

    Back in the late 70s, when Gray’s and Grant’s anatomy atlases ruled supreme for my vintage going through medical school, this text would have been a hit on the medical bookshop shelves: over 350 pages of layered real photo images of cadavers beautifully numbered, indexed, and with useful undergraduate level clinical text at the end of each chapter.

    For students of medicine and other undergraduate areas, this is a whole atlas of human anatomy, not just limited to the musculoskeletal system. So for those looking purely for a musculoskeletal anatomy text, this would not be the most appropriate; a lot of pages—for example, those covering abdominal viscera—might never be perused.

    Bony anatomy is, however, well covered, including muscle attachments, although illustrated drawings without descriptive text has its drawbacks; in many cases, one has to look at more than one page to follow a whole muscle group from origin to insertion. In areas of very complex anatomy especially, such as the axilla/brachial plexus region, more text would have helped the reader to understand the anatomical relations of structures to each other. But the CD ROM comes into its own here: seven regions in detail where one can scroll through the images from superficial to deep layers (including the detailed courses of arteries, veins, and nerves), rotate the images to view at all angles, enlarge them, add and remove muscle layers off the models, and rotate limbs around to follow dermatomal distributions on surface anatomy. It certainly would have made learning clinical anatomy for exam purposes a whole lot easier 20 years ago and will now become a very useful teaching aid in my office for patients and visiting students alike.

    Who is the book pitched at? In the preface, the authors say that it is aimed at students of human anatomy including medicine, dentistry, physiology, and occupational therapy students, but postgraduate students in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine would find aspects of this very useful.

    The clinical notes at the end of each chapter tend to be pitched very much at an undergraduate level—for example, defining “olecranon bursitis” and “rotator cuff tear” in the “Upper Limb clinical notes”. The atlas pictorial pages along with the CD ROM would be extremely useful in any clinician’s office, however. You will have your patients “wowing” at this representation of human anatomy. “Archibald”, the full skeleton who’s been camped in my office for the past 15 years, might be moving out! The CD ROM occupies much less space and comes with the ability to show off much more than just bony anatomy!


    • Presentation 14/20

    • Comprehensiveness 15/20

    • Readability 14/20

    • Relevance 16/20

    • Evidence basis Not applicable

    • Total 59/80

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