Head, Neck and Neuroanatomy, 2nd edition

Review by L Flood

Sixty-five million years ago, a dinosaur may have stood at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and thought, for the last 10th of a second of his life, that change is not always a welcome thing. Seeing another, possibly the last, book from Thieme in their distinctive blue-over-silver cover, this reviewer recalled decades of anticipating anything in this format and shared that sentiment. Thieme now announce a new look for their covers. The slogan for the new brand introduction is, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover – unless it’s from Thieme’. Actually, the end result, described as a blue, blue, white, is not that different, and we will soon get used to it, a bit like UK’s finest moving from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium, I hope.

Any atlas of anatomy is for reference and not reading cover to cover, but the text here is uniformly easy-going. This is not the traditional dry listing of every branch of a vessel and its relations. Instead, clinical relevance is stressed throughout. Neuroanatomy takes up over 200 of the 555 pages of text, and I thought the chapters made this baffling subject almost intelligible. We do still have to suffer mapping of brainstem pathways, but there is excellent coverage of neurological examination. Section 11.2 covers the meninges and dural septa, and beautifully illustrates how brain herniation may develop. Section 20.16 discusses neurological defects arising from different levels of spinal cord lesions, and, again, this is practical and clinically relevant. ENT-related topics such as nystagmus, the auditory and vestibular pathways, gestation, and olfaction are all covered in ‘Neuroanatomy’, so do not ignore that. The distribution of bodily dermatomes I have never understood, until I saw them illustrated on a human figure in profile, touching his toes (my favourite image in the whole book).

Now, characteristically, I have waffled and not even mentioned the first 253 pages on the head and neck, of greatest relevance to us. Again, it is so notable that clinical features are stressed. Cranial nerve anatomy, for example, is accompanied by the implications of different levels of lesions (e.g. for facial paralysis, accessory nerve injury, or disorders of voice and swallowing).

The casual browser will be immediately struck by the quality and profusion of full colour illustrations throughout. These represent really talented artwork. Less obvious, but my personal favourites, were the smaller monochrome diagrams illustrating subjects such as subclavian steal syndrome, variations in carotid artery branching or the course of the right recurrent laryngeal nerve. There is far more clinical information than anyone could expect from what is entitled an ‘atlas’.

Scratching away that silver, you encounter the ‘Winking Skull’ and then have online access to 500 of the total of 1398 images in the book, together with a self-assessment tool. I simply cannot believe they have been able to produce a work of this quality at such a price; it represents amazing value. Brilliant as an exam revision aid obviously, I now wonder if this will prove
the year’s prize winner, having already suggested The Chronic Ear (Dornhoffer and Gluth) as a candidate.

Amazon Link: Head, Neck and Neuroanatomy, 2nd edition
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