This is a comprehensive comparison between the top five anatomy resources for students who struggle with studying anatomy. Three aspects of each book will be covered which include images/illustrations, explanations, and the level of experience you should have before reading each book.
1. Atlas of Human Anatomy by Frank Henry Netter
This book is amazing and it is filled with illustrations that Netter himself drew. The amazing thing about this book is that every anatomical structure in this book is labeled and you can see every every landmark on each side.
- Boxes: Going through the pages you get to see a lot of treats, one of which is the “See Also Boxes”. These are gray boxes that can take you to other plates related to the plate you are seeing. For example, the sacrum and the coccyx are on plate 166, where you also have a See Also Box that says you can go to plates 334 and 338 to enhance your understanding of each topic.
- The clinical significance and the muscle table: These are shown at the end of each chapter. The muscle table emphasizes on the blood supply, main actions, innervation, the proximal attachment, and the distal attachment of each muscle. It sorts out every muscle to each muscle group. While the clinical significance links the anatomical structure and its clinical correlation or importance.
Although being an amazing book, this book has also its own setbacks.
- No text: One of the setbacks is that this book doesn’t contain any text. It is an atlas not a textbook so it doesn’t contain any text to explain each image or to talk about the topics that are related to the images in the book.
- Plates numbering only: The book is numbered by plates and not by pages. Flipping through the pages you get a plate number which might be frustrating for some.
- Images and Illustrations – 7/10. The images and illustrations are very good.
- Explanations – 0/10. There are no texts to explain any of the images.
- Level of Experience needed – Intermediate. You need to be an intermediate student to study with this book and understand each topic.
2. Thieme Atlas of Anatomy
This book is very amazing in its way of giving you information.
- Anatomy & Embryology: It contains the whole human anatomy in addition to its embryology. This book is a guide that takes you through anatomy, starting from surface anatomy to muscles, and bones and ending with the lymphatic and the neurovascular systems.
- Learning points: Another amazing thing about the illustrations in this book is that they are divided into small learning units. So you can get your focus only on one piece of information at a time.
- Atlas-Textbook combination: It is a combination between a textbook and an atlas. So you can get the information and understanding while also visualizing.
- Latin version: This book also comes with a Latin version. If you are interested in the latin nomenclature, you can get these terms and memorize them using the Latin version.
This book has its own disadvantages. These include:
- Neither an atlas nor a textbook: In terms of the information, the book comes in a mixture between a textbook and an atlas. It is neither a textbook nor an atlas so you need to get a real atlas and a real textbook.
- Three volumes: If you want to study the whole human anatomy using this book, you need to get the three volumes of the book. It comes in three volumes, not one textbook in its paper book version.
- Images and Illustrations – 7/10
- Explanations – 7/10
- Level of Experience needed – Beginner.It is beginner-friendly and a guide for students who are starting with anatomy.
3. Sobotta Atlas of Human Anatomy
This book is well renowned around the world. It has been translated into 19 different languages including English, Arabic, and French. It contains a lot of illustrations and realistic images.
- Chapter introduction: The amazing thing about this book is that each chapter has an introduction. This introduction gives you a preface to the chapter and an exam checklist about the high-yield information students should know. The introduction also contains the clinical remark box which gives clinically relevant information that links the anatomical site with its clinical importance.
- Tables for memorization: It gives you a lot of tables to sum up some of the complicated topics. It provides an easier way to remember these topics.
Despite being a very good book, the book has its own setbacks.
- Figures: One of the setbacks is that each figure doesn’t put the corresponding English and Latin terms which makes it frustrating when reading the figures.
- Three volumes: This book is also divided into three volumes. This makes it unhandy to use as a paperbook version.
- Images and Illustrations – 9/10
- Explanations – 7/10
- Level of Experience needed – Intermediate. This is because of the mixture between the English and the Latin terms.
4. Gray’s Anatomy for Students
- Beginner friendly: This book guides students and takes them through the A to Z of anatomy.The introduction of each chapter gives you the conceptual overview, the regional anatomy, the surface anatomy and information about some clinical cases.
- In the clinic: Going through the pages you get to see green boxes that says “in the clinic”. The in the clinic box links anatomical structures and clinical importance.
- Student access: Getting the original version of the book also gets you the student access or the student consult access. This gives you access to many awesome stuff like self-assessment multiple choice questions, short questions, interactive service anatomy, clinical cases and you also get free online anatomy and embryology self-study course.
- Does not contain everything: Despite being a very good book the book doesn’t contain any topics about embryology, histology and physiology. This is most likely because the writers of the book didn’t want to cram up the book with topics that you don’t need. They wanted to put everything related to anatomy for students in one book because it’s for beginner students.
- Fewer images: This book also has its own setback that it doesn’t contain that much of images. You need to to think of getting an atlas to get the full visualization of some topics.
- Images and Illustrations – 9/10
- Explanations – 8/10
- Level of Experience needed – Beginner.
5. Snell’s Clinical Anatomy by Regions
- Useful for clinic: The authors of this book wanted to make it an anatomy book for the clinic. It gives you a lot of clinically relevant information and takes you through basic anatomy and clinical anatomy.
- Radiographs: The book is also filled with radiographs including MRI and CT scans.
- Online access: It also provides online access to review questions and assess areas of weaknesses in your study.
- Old fashioned illustrations: The illustrations in this book are actually not very engaging because going through the pages you get to see that they are old-fashioned.
- Illustrations are not located near the topic: The illustrations are hardly ever located near the topic. You have to flip over many times to get to the image that is related to the topic you’re reading.
- Images and Illustrations – 5/10
- Explanations – 7/10
- Level of Experience needed – Intermediate
Which book should you choose?
When studying anatomy you need both an atlas and a textbook. You need an atlas to visualize while you read and a textbook to understand what the structures in the body are.
You don’t have to follow only our recommendation. You can also go to the school library and take a look at every atlas or anatomy textbook available and choose which suits you.