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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Rita K. Getz, PhD (Midwestern University)
Description: This is a concise dissector for use in gross human anatomy dissections. The dissector uses a regional approach to the dissection, and although the book begins with dissection of the thorax, instructions are sufficient to allow users to begin their dissections in other regions (e.g., usually the back). It replaces the first edition published in 1998.
Purpose: In the preface, the author expresses his intent to present essential dissection instructions with a minimum of synoptic detail that students can find in an anatomy textbook. He emphasizes the need for users of this book to also consult an atlas and textbook in their approach to the material. A good dissector for use in human anatomy labs is indeed essential for maximum benefit and learning. This is best accomplished by a descriptive dissector with explicit instructions and sufficiently detailed diagrams. It would appear that this author has tried to strike a balance between being an abbreviated textbook and descriptive dissector. Unfortunately, both aspects suffer from insufficient detail.
Audience: The book is written for health professions students enrolled in a dissection course for gross human anatomy. The author is a professor of anatomy at a medical and dental school.
Features: The book begins with an excellent introductory chapter that provides general instruction to the student dissector. Each chapter that follows begins with a brief listing of learning objectives and a few key concepts. These learning objectives and key concepts are very general and could easily be overlooked or ignored by the student dissector. Dissection instructions are highlighted in maroon, and the format is outline style. Structures of major importance are in bold type. The dissector is keyed to four atlases in order to assist students in finding additional pertinent diagrams.
Assessment: Not much has changed between the first and second editions. The first edition is keyed to five atlases, and the second edition is keyed to four. Most of the diagrams are the same in both editions with a few of the figures in the second edition updated to include identification of structures. Due to the abbreviated approach used here, some structures are inadequately and seemingly inaccurately described. For example, the brief description on page 31 would suggest that the arcuate line of the posterior rectus sheath is at the level of the umbilicus, when in reality the arcuate line is generally located inferior to the umbilicus. The dissection instructions are generally good, but could be improved by inclusion of more diagrams to illustrate the dissection as well as more specific details of the dissection. Along the same line, hints to fledgling student dissectors to indicate when extra time or fine dissection technique is needed could make this dissector more helpful. And because no atlas contains diagrams that exactly correspond to an individual dissection, students might also benefit from a brief description of what is usually encountered in any given dissection (e.g. ventricle-consuming clots in the heart). The author emphasizes the need for an atlas and textbook in addition to the dissector. Accordingly, the synoptic text subjects which appear to be randomly chosen could be removed and placed in a more thorough textbook of anatomy, and the resultant space used for more diagrams and dissection explanation. All things considered, this dissector is on par with other such dissectors.