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Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy

The Canadian anatomist J. C. Boileau Grant was renowned for his dedication to research and teaching and enjoyed a high reputation for his very precise and highly instructive dissection specimens. During World War II, when European anatomy atlases were unavailable in ally countries, he decided to bring out his own atlas. Thus, in 1943 Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy became the first anatomical atlas published in North America.

In 2009 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins published the twelfth edition edited by Anne Agur (University of Toronto, Canada) and Arthur Dalley (Vanderbilt University, USA). The 834-pages thick book covers the entire macroscopic anatomy with lifelike and schematic illustrations, clinical applications and tables. It comes with an access code to a website with further online resources.

Grant's Atlas of Anatomy


Each section begins with a systematic overview of the topic (e.g. bones, nerves and blood vessels). From there, it uncovers the area layer-by-layer as if you would see it in a real dissection. Most illustrations come with a descriptive text, many of which include the physiology or clinical relevance of the structure or organ. Numerous photos displaying the surface anatomy are distributed throughout the chapters which you would not find as such in other atlases.

Tables list the most important information about the muscles, nerves and arteries in note form. One distinct feature of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy is its high number of radiological images such as ultrasounds and CT scans with detailed descriptions. By purchasing the book, you also gain access to a website which offers all images from the atlas, video clips, USMLE-style questions and exercises.


A Grant's anatomy atlas - a look inside

The biggest difference between Grant’s and other atlases is the inconsistency of image quality. While some are very realistic and rich in detail, others resemble a cheap cartoon. Therefore it becomes rather challenging to study the anatomy thoroughly with the help of these pictures.

In addition, Grant's has much fewer labels per figure than other atlases. That clearly has an educational purpose and is truly helpful for beginners. Committed students, however, might find it rather annoying not to be able to find further information about smaller structures or regions. Finally, some topics are covered quite superficially, particularly embryology and neuroanatomy, which one is forced to look up in other atlases.


Since its first edition, Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy became one of the most popular atlases among medical students in the English-speaking literature. It follows the idea of presenting anatomy as lively and clinically relevant as possible. The book tries to cover the entire macroscopic anatomy of the human body in one volume and is particularly aimed to serve as an introduction for beginners (e.g. preclinical students). However this leads to the problem that the images all together are neither as comprehensive nor detailed as other atlases. Unfortunately the quality of the illustrations is not consistent, which makes it rather difficult to enjoy learning with this book. Furthermore, certain topics are scarcely discussed which is why a second book will certainly be necessary to get complete knowledge of the macroscopic anatomy.

One positive point is that the 12th edition of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy is currently available for the student-friendly price of around $32. So even if you do not like this book, at least its purchase will not burn a hole in your wallet. Note that the most recent edition published in 2013 has only a few more improvements, especially some updated illustrations, but is not worth the much higher price of $118.

If you are not keen on spending money on books which are just going to rot in your bookshelf, try out Kenhub's anatomy quizzes and videos instead. In combination with Kenhub's free anatomy atlas and library of articles, you will master the subjects of Human anatomy and histology in no time. And if you are not happy, just tell us and you will get a refund of your current monthly fee. No 'ifs', no 'buts'.

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Show references


  • A. Agur, A. Dalley: Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2009), 12th edition
  • A. Agur, A. Dalley: Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2013), 13th edition

Author: Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

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