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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Edgar F. Allin, MD (Midwestern University)
Description: This is a textbook of human embryology. The main focus is descriptive morphology of all stages of prenatal life, but much attention is given to developmental defects, and considerable information is added in this edition on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms.
Purpose: The stated purpose is to provide a foundation for the diagnosis, care, and prevention of birth defects. The author acquaints the reader with the nature and timing of normal prenatal events and many important deviations from normal.
Audience: This book is aimed primarily at medical and kindred students but would be valuable to medical educators and to clinicians in such fields as pediatrics and obstetrics.
Features: The core is the lucid account of normal morphologic development by Langman, the original author. The author has updated, expanded the amount of teratology, introduced developmental biology content that was virtually absent previously, and added many new figures, particularly scanning electron micrographs. Some of the new material is not as clearly written as it might be, but still the value of the book is enhanced in view of the recent explosion of knowledge resulting from new research techniques (with much potential diagnostic and pharmacologic utility).
Assessment: Several flaws in the previous edition have been corrected, such as obvious errors of color coding in a few figures, although some remain (as examples, there is no such thing as a "two-cell zygote," and rays of the hand are not interdigital). Better choices of coloration could have been made for several figures (e.g., blue rather than orange for otic vesicle derivatives), and the shading in some 3-D computer-generated figures is baffling. Figure 11-4 of the heart is confusing. Although there are other medical embryology textbooks that are superior in certain respects (e.g., both Carlson and Larson for mechanisms), this is a very good all-around choice.