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St. Paul’s surgeon featured in new Gray’s Anatomy

Dr. Sam Wiseman flips through the new Gray's Surgical Anatomy, which he edited.

It is a passion for surgical education that has led Dr. Sam Wiseman, a surgeon with a practice and research focus on surgery of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, in the division of General Surgery at St. Paul’s Hospital, to become immersed in editing and writing a new medical textbook. But this isn’t just any medical textbook. It’s the newest member of the famous Gray’s Anatomy textbook ‘family’ – Gray’s Surgical Anatomy. The first edition of this new surgical textbook was just released at the end of November.

Dr. Sam Wiseman, one of the editors of Gray’s Surgical Anatomy.

“The first edition of a book is very challenging because it has to be born from somewhere. This one is born from the hard work of myself, my co-lead editors Professors Peter Brennan and Susan Standring, the many excellent contributors from around the globe and our terrific editorial team at the publisher Elsevier.” Dr. Wiseman says with a proud smile on his face.

Hundreds of surgeons contribute to new text

The weighty tome – 653 pages – covers the anatomy of the entire human body from a surgical perspective. There is also additional book content available online including self-assessment questions, clinical cases, and videos. Hundreds of surgeons from around the world, including several from British Columbia, contributed content to the book.

Cover shot of new Gray's Surgical Anatomy reference book.
Cover of Gray’s Surgical Anatomy, just released at end of November.

The original Gray’s Anatomy, first published in 1858 and now entering into its 42nd edition, is considered the world’s bestselling anatomy textbook. Amazingly, it has been an international bestseller for more than a century.

While contributing content to another title in the series a few years ago, Dr. Wiseman had the idea to create a book that was specifically focused on surgical anatomy. This ultimately led to a meeting with Dr. Peter Brennan, who, across the Atlantic in the UK, also had the same idea. Then add in the expertise of Professor Susan Standring, a world-renowned anatomist and current editor-in-chief of Gray’s Anatomy, and the project was on its way.

Lengthy process to produce a first edition

First, the team had to come up with a structure for the book and decide how the information would be best presented. Then, they determined what content the book should cover. This included discussions on which surgical procedures for that anatomical area should be highlighted. From there, they worked with expert surgeons to oversee and edit each section, and collaborated with chapter authors on content and presentation. Ultimately, the goal was to create a trusted and practical resource for surgeons, surgical trainees, and other medical professionals involved in surgery.

“Regular anatomy books focus more on normal anatomy, which is the structure of the body as it exists in an undisturbed form,” explains Dr. Wiseman. “Surgical anatomy is focused on the anatomy the surgeon encounters during operations – the normal location and orientation of anatomical structures is changed, and there are also distortions in the normal anatomy that occur due to the underlying condition that is being treated.”

Open pages of Gray's Surgical Anatomy text showing a few photos and illustrations of surgery.
Inside of new Gray’s Surgical Anatomy reference book.

As he flips through the book, proudly displayed on his desk at St. Paul’s, he is excited that all those months and years of work have finally come to fruition. He believes the text will become the go-to surgical anatomy resource for surgeons and trainees, much the same way the original Gray’s Anatomy has become such a keystone anatomical resource for medical professionals.

Dr. Wiseman says that his family is happy the book is completed and he now has more time to spend with them, but he quips, “Unfortunately, my teenaged kids were disappointed when I explained to them that this book has nothing to do with the television show, Grey’s Anatomy!”

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