A NEUROBIOLOGIST PRESENTS THE NEW EDITION OF GRAY’S ANATOMY
GRAY’S ANATOMY: THE ANATOMICAL BASIS OF CLINICAL PRACTICE - 39th edition. Edited by Susan Standring and others. Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, 2005. [$ 169, and an extra $30 for CD-ROM and online access].
Susan Standring, professor of experimental neurobiology at King’s College (London) and the first female editor in chief, presents the latest edition of Gray’s Anatomy.
This beautifully produced and medically invaluable book, continues its tradition of excellence with this 39th edition which changes the subtitle from “The Anatomical Basis of Medicine and Surgery” to “The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice”. It is a quite relevant difference. In fact, since past editions added material covering advances in such fields as molecular biology, immunohistology, basic embryology, the book had mainly become a source for basic scientists and anatomists. But with the present volume the authors added “anatomy in clinical situations” such as microsurgery, endoscopy, arthroscopy, minimally invasive surgery, reflecting the way in which clinicians need to see anatomy.
Being aware that no single reviewer is competent to judge such an encyclopaedic work we consulted a number of experts in the field and read reviews written by anatomists, physicians and surgeons. Among them, Sherwin Nuland, clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, provides an effective synthesis of relevant considerations in “An Institution between Covers”, just published in the March issue of Scientific American.
As Nuland notes, Henry Gray’s original offering of 1858 has taken on the task of providing an overview of the science on which comprehensive understanding of gross anatomy is based in today’s biomedical and clinical worlds.
Over the time a significant change came about with the 35th edition in 1973, when the visual character of the book began a veritable transformation. Since that time, each edition has incrementally added topics from modern imaging such as computer assisted and electron microscopy, CT, MRI, fMRI, PET and so on.
With the 37th edition, a formal editorial board was created to provide a supervisory framework for the additions being made by the specialist authors whose contributions were increasing the value of Gray’s Anatomy as a source for basic science and clinical applications. When the next edition appeared in 1995 the main changes to be found in it -Nuland observes- were organizational, consisting primarily of rearranging the material to make it more accessible and useful.
But with the present edition, Susan Standring and her authoritative team have operated the major change in presenting their material by regions rather than the old method of systems.
As every human enterprise Gray’s Anatomy has its imperfections, but we have been able to find only one mistake: “Surface Anatomy of the Lower Limb”, on page 1339 according the table of contents, is wrongly located on page 1999.