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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Chris John Stasik, DO (University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: The CD-ROM version of Scott Wagner's Color Atlas of the Autopsy presents the entire atlas using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Twelve chapters cover all aspects of the forensic autopsy, each accessible from the table of contents via a hyperlink. Users must have a computer with a CD-ROM drive in order to install and use this program and the Adobe software is provided on the CD-ROM.
Purpose: This atlas is meant to broadly educate the nonpathologist about the autopsy. In a field where most textbooks are directed at the anatomic pathologist, this atlas attempts to educate the nonpathologist about basic autopsy procedure, theory, and limitations. These objectives are met through descriptive text and a plethora of color photographs.
Audience: In the introduction, Dr. Wagner states that this atlas is intended for those who interact with the autopsy pathologist, including paramedics, crime scene investigators, firefighters, law enforcement officers, nurses, and students. Pathology residents and practicing anatomic pathologists will find the material too basic. Assuming the reader has no prior knowledge of the autopsy, Dr. Wagner sequentially describes and photographically documents most aspects of the autopsy procedure while providing good commentary regarding philosophy and theory. Dr. Wagner is an assistant professor of pathology at Indiana University School of Medicine and he is the director of the Phillip E. O'Shaughnessy Northeast Indiana Forensic Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Features: The first 11 chapters sequentially describe and photographically document the autopsy procedure beginning with a discussion about the purpose and philosophy of the autopsy and ending with post-mortem laboratory analysis. The external and internal examinations are broadly described with pictures demonstrating examples of specific findings. Descriptions of individual organ examinations are also included. Unfortunately, the CD-ROM version of the atlas has more drawbacks than benefits. The lone benefit is the accessibility of material via hyperlinks from the table of contents page. There is no search feature or index so it may take some time to actually find the necessary information. Scrolling between pages is a slow process and the images that correspond with the text are not embedded on the same page but rather are retrievable via hyperlink which takes you to an image bank located at the end of each chapter. This makes correlating points made in the text with the pictures cumbersome. The multitude of pictures is a strength of the atlas, but the utility of the captions and photographic quality are variable. Often, more pictures are provided than are necessary (i.e., when illustrating the "Y-incision" seven separate pictures are used to show the process). It is not uncommon for pictures of pathologic specimens to lack a size reference. The final chapter consists of 20 review questions.
Assessment: This atlas is an adequate reference for those who are new to the autopsy. Experienced practitioners and pathology residents will find it overly simplistic. The CD-ROM version fails to add much of value over the print copy other than the ability to quickly navigate between chapters from the table of contents page. The lack of a search feature or index, slow navigation within chapters, and hyperlinked photographs which are separated from the main text, are enough to recommend against purchasing the computer version of this atlas.