Sobotta Atlas of Anatomy General Anatomy and Musculoskeletal System
In the preface of the first edition of his atlas in May 1904, Johannes Sobotta writes: ‘Long-standing experience in cadaver dissection classes has prompted the author to ensure that the illustrations of the peripheral nervous system and the blood vessels depict the relevant structures in the same way that the student is accustomed to seeing them on the cadaver, i.e. that they depict the vessels and nerves from the same region together. Furthermore, the atlas alternates between pages of text and full-page diagrams. The latter contain the key illustrations in the atlas, while the former – in addition to sketches and schematic drawings and legends – contain a brief, concise text to help the student find information quickly when using the book in the dissection hall.’ Just as fashions change on a regular basis, so do students’ reading and studying habits.The ubiquitousness of multi-media and the ready availability of information and stimuli are surely the main reasons why these habits are changing at a much faster rate than ever before. Publishers and publishing houses must stay abreast of these developments and of students’ changing expectations regarding atlases and textbooks they wish to use, as well as ensuring the digital availability of the contents. In addition to interviews with students and systematic surveys, a publisher can sometimes gauge students’ expectations from the textbook market itself. Detailed textbooks claiming to be completely comprehensive are increasingly being abandoned in favour of textbooks that didactically meet students’ educational needs and cover the contents of their courses and exams – whether they are studying medicine, dentistry or biomedical science. Likewise, although the images in atlases such as Sobotta have fascinated many generations of doctors and medical professionals around the world with their precise naturalistic representations of real dissections, they are sometimes perceived by students as being too complicated and too detailed. This realisation requires us to consider how we can build upon the obvious strengths of an atlas – which in the course of over 100 years of tradition and 23 German editions, has become a benchmark of accuracy and quality – to meet modern didactic concepts without the overall work losing its unique, exclusive characteristic and its originality.
For educational reasons, we have maintained the Sobotta’s original concept and chosen to publish the atlas, as it has been since the first edition, in three volumes: General Anatomy and Musculoskeletal System (I); Internal Organs (2); and Head, Neck and Neuroanatomy (3). And while the concept mentioned in the preface of the first edition, i.e. linking the pictures in the Atlas with an explanatory text, may be old-fashioned, it has now come back into fashion – we have simply modernised the concept. Each picture is thus completed with a short explanatory text to introduce the students to the structure depicted and to explain why those particular dissection and depiction methods have been chosen for that particular region.The individual chapters have been systematically structured to follow today’s methods of studying, while various illustrations have been updated or replaced. The majority of these new illustrations have been designed from the point of view of the learner, to make it easier to study the key pathways of blood supply and innervation. We have furthermore revised numerous existing illustrations and reduced the numberof labels, using bold type to facilitate access to the anatomical content.The numerous clinical practice examples (‘Clinical Remarks’) show the somewhat ‘dry’ subject of anatomy at its most vibrant best, demonstrating to beginners how relevant anatomy is for their subsequent professional life and giving them a tantalising taste of their clinical training to come. Another revised feature is the introductory preface to the individual chapters, which sum up the content and the key issues, and include a real-life clinical case. In addition, each chapter ends with a summary of questions which would typically be asked in oral anatomy
exams and exam tests. As in the 23’d edition, each chapter contains a brief introduction to the embryology of each body region.
Readers should please note two things:
1. The 24″ edition of the Sobotta Atlas cannot replace an explanatory textbook.
2. No matter how good an educational concept is, students still have to put in many hours of intensive studying themselves – a good concept can but make that knowledge more accessible. Learning anatomy is not difficult, but it does take a lot of time; time that is well spent, since everybody – doctor and patient – will benefit from it in the long run. The aim of the 24″ edition of the Sobotta Atlas is not
only to facilitate your study, but also to make the time you spend studying engaging and interesting, so that the atlas is something you will repeatedly want to pick up and consult, both during your medical training and your subsequent professional career.
Erlangen and Munich, summer of 2017,
exactly 113 years after the first edition was published
Friedrich Paulsen and Jens Waschke
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