Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy: Review
When it comes to the world of human anatomy, here are several atlas giants roaming the landscape. Two of those are ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy’ and ‘Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy’, both of which have received worldwide recognition - especially the latter.
With Netter’s confidently leading the pack, it may seem as though no other anatomy atlas can come close to competing. However, ‘Grant’s Atlas’ has a few tricks up its sleeve that keep it close to the top ranks. But, naturally, it’s also dragged down considerably by a few pesky elements.
|Pros||Color, contrast, and style of illustrations; descriptive legends containing explanations; multiple views provided; cadaveric and radiological anatomy provided; key-facts tables|
|Cons||Miniscule labels; confusing organization, hence time-confusing to use; lack of resources; big, thick, and heavy|
In this article we’ll take a closer look at ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14th Edition’ and try to expose as many of its features and hidden secrets as possible. By the time we’ve finished exploring its advantages and disadvantages in detail, your task of deciding which anatomy atlas to invest in will hopefully be a lot easier. Let’s get started!
- Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy: 14th edition
Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy: 14th edition
John C. Boileau Grant represents for this atlas what Frank H. Netter symbolizes for Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy - the bud out of which the entire collection sprung to life. As the Chair of Anatomy at the University of Toronto, Dr. Grant built a collection of dissections and carbon-dust grayscale illustrations for his students, which remained the backbone of his atlas even to this day. The only difference nowadays is a touch of modernity combined with the liveliness of fresh colors.
As a whole, ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy’ is as old as the hills. The first edition was published in 1943 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins/Wolters Kluwer, which has brought it all the way into the 21st century. The latest edition at the time of writing this review is the fourteenth one, which was released in 2016.
The overall format of the atlas is logical and standard, exactly what you would expect from a reputable anatomy learning resource found on the market:
- Chapter 1 - Back
- Chapter 2 - Upper limb
- Chapter 3 - Thorax
- Chapter 4 - Abdomen
- Chapter 5 - Pelvis and perineum
- Chapter 6 - Lower limb
- Chapter 7 - Head
- Chapter 8 - Neck
- Chapter 9 - Cranial nerves
Unfortunately, each chapter is lacking a simplistic and intuitive organisation, making navigation difficult. You can eventually find the information by slowly trodding through a chapter thanks to the self-explanatory illustrations; the ‘Index’ is also an option, but similarly it takes time and it is not the first method that springs to a reader’s mind. The weapon of choice to navigate an academic textbook is always the ‘Content page’, but ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14th Edition’ doesn’t use it to its full potential.
What formats of this atlas can you choose from? If you want a sturdy and long-term anatomy reference to keep on your library shelf, you can get a new hardback that costs anywhere between 115$ USD to 175$ USD approximately.
If on the other hand you want a less back-breaking option that’s more portable, then the paperback could be a viable format. For a new version, you need to grab between 56$ USD and 90$ USD approximately. Lastly, if you want this atlas at your fingertips, then the eBook could tickle your fancy budget-wise, ranging anywhere between 12$ USD and 90$ USD, give or take. Of course, those prices can vary based on discounts and the state of the atlas (new or used).
‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14th Edition’ comes with additional e-learning resources. Students can access a collection of twelve ancillary content and videos showcasing various complex anatomical structures that perhaps need more in-depth explanations than in the atlas. Examples include a cross-section of the spinal cord, right ventricle, diaphragm, auditory ossicles, and a couple of others.
In addition to the students, instructors are not forgotten, which is actually a unique feature of this atlas compared to other ones. Teachers, professors, and educators can automatically access the eBook version and an image bank full of anatomy illustrations that can be exploited to simplify the subject as much as possible.
- Drawings - What’s the most important feature of any anatomy atlas? The illustrations, which need to be immaculate. Luckily, the editors have understood this aspect and focused all their energy into perfecting their drawings in term of color, contrast, and style. They have a more ‘sketchy’ and playful feel to them in contrast to its competitors - a breath of fresh air that makes the subject slightly more bearable. However, don’t be fooled! The drawings are not merely child’s play, but detailed schematics, illustrating everything from anatomical structures to muscle attachments and surface anatomy.
- Short legends and explanations - Many anatomy atlases keep the figure titles and legends to the bare minimum. They only inform you what structure you’re looking at and from what direction (the view). However, ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy’ takes it one step further. The legends underneath the illustrations are filled with descriptions and explanations about the structure of interest. For instance, they can describe how blood vessels connect and drain into one another, the function of each labeled feature, and so on. In addition, those boxes can also contain clinical information, giving your sleepless anatomy nights and never-ending headaches a purpose.
- Multiple views - Even though anatomy is learned in 2D, you need to conceptualize it in 3D. The sternocostal surface of the heart, for example, might look easy and flat on a piece of paper, but in reality, it sits inside a complex cavity having a depth, width, and height. The only way to teach your mind to visualize anatomy similar to how an architect imagines buildings is to see multiple views of the anatomical structure. This atlas does exactly that - it twists and turns every schematic inside out and back to front (frontal, sagittal, lateral, transverse, you name it), helping you form a complete picture in your mind’s eye.
- Imaging - Schematic illustrations only get you so far. During your practice as a health care provider, you will mostly come across anatomy in the form of paraclinical imaging taken from real human beings that are full of anatomical variability. To help you in this transition, ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy’ has included various radiological anatomy figures like ultrasound, X-rays, angiographies, MRIs, and CTs. Although there are not a lot of them, it feels that a sufficient number has been used to bridge the transition from ‘book smarts’ to ‘street (hospital) smarts’.
- Tables - What’s the bane of large, overview images depicting numerous anatomical structures like muscles or blood vessels? The overwhelming feeling of not knowing where everything starts or ends and what is important. Luckily, the authors of this atlas understood this aspect and dotted throughout it numerous tables summarising key aspects like muscle attachments, artery or nerve branches, organ divisions, cranial nerve lesions, and many more. Very often the information expressed in those tables come up in exams and are important for you to master, so don’t overlook those goldmines of information.
- Instructor and student resources - Are you a student that got tired of reading and would rather learn about twelve topics by watching videos? ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14th Edition’ has got your back. Are you an instructor teaching anatomy and want some top-notch illustrations? You are catered for as well. You can access those online resources after purchasing the atlas completely free of charge. Show me someone who doesn’t like freebies and I’ll show you a unicorn!
- Labels - If the illustrations are the bread of an anatomy atlas, then the labels are the butter. Unfortunately, the latter leave a lot to be desired. They are extremely small, giving you the impression of ants surrounding the images rather than words. It is even worse for the Ebook version in which an overview of an entire page is simply a mere fantasy because the words are so tiny! It’s true that you can zoom in, but then you don’t see the complete picture and relations between various anatomical structures. Also, continuously zooming in and about on the same page can quickly become annoying and time-consuming - not a good combination with a subject like anatomy!
- Confusing organization - Do you remember the importance and efficiency of a properly organized anatomy atlas that we talked about previously? Frustratingly, ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy’ falls short in this area, too. Although the main chapters follow a simple logic, their sections certainly do not. Sometimes regions are explained into more than one section, covering half the topic at one point and the rest at a completely different stage. Anatomy professors normally follow either the ‘regional’ or ‘system’ method of teaching the subject, so this chaotic organization is only making navigation and understanding extremely cumbersome. It feels like searching for a needle in a haystack! Seasoned veterans can probably find their way through the maze, but an anatomy newbie is likely to feel very confused indeed.
- Lack of resources - This learning resource definitely offers additional online resources, but how many? The truth is, not a lot. Accessing them requires you to actually buy the atlas in the first place, but even after that the situation is far from rosy. You only get twelve videos in total covering very small and specific topics like the right ventricle, the cranial part of the trigeminal nerve, the cartilage and ligaments of the knee joint, and so on. There are no quizzes or review questions to test your understanding and help with long-term retention and no dissection videos. Even the subjects of the videos are not broad enough to be considered useful. This is certainly not a good way to stand out from the crowd as a powerful anatomy atlas.
- Textbook - If you open up a dictionary at the word ‘textbook’, you will see words that every student hates such as big, thick, heavy, pricey, boring. Ok, not really but you get the point. However, 887 pages bring the weight of this atlas to about 2.5 kgs. Add the hardcover and you can simply replace your gym membership with this atlas. It may sound like a good idea initially, but it will quickly turn into a nightmare if you carry it with you on a daily basis.
- Only one depicting style - If you open ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy’, you will come across such images:
It looks familiar, right? Almost every single anatomy atlas uses strictly overview images containing lots of labels. They certainly have their advantages and usefulness, but sometimes it is easier to see structures isolated one-by-one without any background ‘noise’. For example, isn’t this easier on the eye?
The power of a learning resource, especially when it comes to anatomy, is to give the student as much freedom as possible in choosing his or her preferred study method. Therefore, you should be able to see isolated structures for study purposes and the same structures all together in an overview format to revise or test yourself. How can you do this? By covering them one by one with your hand and saying the name of the structure. Testing is the scientifically backed way to better memory retrieval, so use it!
Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14th Edition vs. Kenhub
Quite clearly, this anatomy atlas has both advantages and disadvantages. It is not the most popular choice when it comes to health science students or anatomy departments, but it is also not something completely neglected. This atlas will not help you succeed in your next anatomy exam by itself, so you’ll need additional, more complete learning methods.
One such example is Kenhub, an online learning platform that provides the student with a variety of study methods, letting him or her take the final decision on preference or the current state of mind. Here's how ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14 Edition’ compares to Kenhub:
As you can see, there’s more than one way one to peel an orange if you use Kenhub. Through the seamless integration of several teaching methods, you can pick and choose how you want to tackle your favourite (or not so favourite but crucial) anatomical structures. If you are tired of sitting in your chair with your back arched forward in an ergonomically incorrect way, you can pick one of Kenhub’s videos. You can stretch and lie down comfortably in your own bed. After you get tired of lying flat or sleep is about to get you, simply move back to your desk and instead of simply listening, pick the corresponding article and read up everything about your chosen structure. You can also twist and turn any anatomical structure around according to your heart’s desire by seeing it from multiple views using Kenhub’s atlas. In the end, you can see how well you’ve mastered the material by attempting the ready-made quizzes or your own custom built one. All of these features, including many more, automatically adapt to your device, making the entire platform fully portable and functional! So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try it out for yourself!
In the end, it’s important to look around at nearly all possible anatomy atlas options because some might suit you a lot better than others. Our advice is to pick the one that ticks the most boxes for your personal needs and stick to it. I hope our review has clarified the good, the bad, and the ugly of this anatomy learning resource. Good luck, and happy studying!
Strengths of 'Grant's Atlas of Anatomy':
- Drawings are a breath of fresh air, not only in terms of their 'sketchy' feel, but also in terms of color, contrast, and style.
- The legends are merely titles and names but filled with descriptions and explanations.
- Multiple views of the same structure are provided.
- In addition to the anatomical illustrations, cadaveric and radiological anatomy help you bridge the gap from theory to practice.
- Summary tables containing muscle attachments, artery branches, and many more.
Weaknesses of 'Grant's Atlas of Anatomy':
- You need a magnifying glass to read the labels because they are extremely tiny.
- The utterly confusing organization can make navigation frustrating and time-consuming.
- Barely any worthwhile resources offered with the atlas, such as quizzes, MCQs, and so on.
- It is a big, thick, and heavy textbook.