Anatomy in a new dimension



Anatomy studies at Warwick Medical School have been given a technological boost as the University launches a world-first 3D anatomy learning resource in collaboration with its NHS Trust partner, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW).

Access to the collection of plastinated body parts is restricted due to the fragile nature of the specimens which have to be kept at a certain temperature and are fairly delicate. However, being able to observe knee joints, wrists or the detailed workings of the thorax is key to any budding surgeon’s studies.

Professor Peter Abrahams, Professor of Clinical Anatomy, explained: “When Mark – one of my third year students – suggested a way of converting our prosections into photographs and film with 3D viewing facilities which then could be ‘housed’ in an online learning portal; it seemed such a fantastic idea. I have fully supported Mark in this project which has taken over 12 months to complete and resulted in a learning aid which is totally unique and hugely beneficial for our students here at Warwick.”

Medical student and Physics graduate, Mark Mobley, is combining his previous experience working on 3D animation with his time spent as an operating theatre auxiliary to develop the learning resource and has worked closely with Brian Burnett, who manages the Surgical Training Centre (STC) at UHCW where much of their teaching takes place. The combined effort means that there are now more than a dozen shots of prosections that can be rotated and viewed in 3D.
Mark explained that anatomy classes are always so interesting but students get a relatively short time to handle and examine the delicate plastinated prosections which are housed within the STC at the Hospital.

He added: “I began developing this learning resource knowing that fellow students would find it an incredibly useful complement to their clinical teaching.

“As long as you can connect to the internet, you will be able to study anatomy. This means that whether you are at home or on the go, you will be able to pull up a knee joint or a lung on your smart phone or computer screen at the click of a mouse.”

Currently only medical students at Warwick Medical School have access to the 3D learning aid but plans are already underway for it to be made available to surgeons at UHCW as the high quality of the images make them an excellent revision tool for them.

Professor Abrahams added: “We are now exploring how we can share the anatomical teaching expertise we have developed at Warwick with students and surgeons world-wide as we have already had some very positive enquiries from overseas following a recent presentation of Mark’s work to the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in Ohio.

“This project highlights the calibre of the students who chose to study medicine at Warwick and demonstrates how we will support and nurture innovative thinking. This is a way of using the technology available to enhance our teaching so that it is truly geared towards 21st Century learning.”

This latest project adds to existing collaborations between WMG and UHCW NHS Trust on 3D printing, and the iPhone app, Aspects of Anatomy launched last year has enabled both organisations to lead the field, both in surgery and anatomical study.