Improved dissection efficiency in the human gross anatomy laboratory by the integration of computers and modern technology



The need to increase the efficiency of dissection in the gross anatomy laboratory has been the driving force behind the technologic changes we have recently implemented. With the introduction of an integrated systems-based medical curriculum and a reduction in laboratory teaching hours, anatomy faculty at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) developed a computer-based dissection manual to adjust to these curricular changes and time constraints. At each cadaver workstation, Apple iMac computers were added and a new dissection manual, running in a browser-based format, was installed. Within the text of the manual, anatomical structures required for dissection were linked to digital images from prosected materials; in addition, for each body system, the dissection manual included images from cross sections, radiographs, CT scans, and histology. Although we have placed a high priority on computerization of the anatomy laboratory, we remain strong advocates of the importance of cadaver dissection. It is our belief that the utilization of computers for dissection is a natural evolution of technology and fosters creative teaching strategies adapted for anatomy laboratories in the 21st century. Our strategy has significantly enhanced the independence and proficiency of our students, the efficiency of their dissection time, and the quality of laboratory instruction by the faculty. Clin. Anat. 17:337–344, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.