Digital cadaver lets students visualize anatomy clearly
By Elva K. Österreich
Las Cruces Bulletin
The folks at Anatomage took a frozen cadaver, sliced it thin and scanned the slices into their machine. Then they did it again and again, finally creating digital versions of human beings good enough to study for students at all levels of their human anatomy learning.
At Arrowhead Park Medical Academy (APMA), a public charter school for high school students interested medical fields, the digital cadaver provides teacher Kris Vaudrey an opportunity not only to teach effectively but to inspire imaginations.
The “skin” on the digital bodies, one male and one female, is an animated drawing so it doesn’t resemble real people, but what is under the skin is the real deal from adipose tissue (fat), to the skeleton in a variety of choices – opaque hard tissue, transparent hard tissue, x-ray or transparent soft tissue.
As an example, Vaudrey pulls up an image of the kidneys, they float there on the table, just waiting for somebody to explore more. Then he can touch the digital scalpel, draw a line through one of the kidneys and turn it on the touch screen to examine what is inside. The image can be enlarged, moved and adjusted by the touch of a finger or three.
“It’s basically a massive computer with a huge graphics card,” Vaudrey said.
All his classes, from basic freshman levels to accelerated learning anatomy, can learn from the table. The new Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine even takes its students over to APMA to work with the table on occasion.
And the images from the table can be digitally viewed from anywhere on campus, Vaudrey said. And he doesn’t have to be at the table itself to manipulate the images, he can do it on a big screen in front of the students.
According to the Anatomage website, “The Anatomage Table is the most technologically advanced anatomy visualization system for anatomy education and is being adopted by many of the world’s leading medical schools and institutions.”
The table plays right into the mission of the whole school, Vaudrey said.
“The goal is to expose students to all the different options,” he said. “There are so many pathways for them – nursing, pre-med, physical therapy. Some of our students will go on to DACC (Doña Ana Community College) to become certified nursing assistants or get twoyear certificates as radiography techs.”
Basically, Vaudrey said, the mission is to graduate students into medical fields, who will stick around in the community.