Purpose: Anatomy education on embalmed specimens is presumed to have added educational value. However, although embalmed specimens have been used for anatomy education for years, there is little evidence on the added educational value of dissection-based teaching. The objective of this randomized study is to examine the added value of dissection-based teaching, using models of the inguinal region in embalmed specimens.
Method: In 2011, medical students at Erasmus Medical Center, The Netherlands, were randomly assigned to three groups. Group I attended lectures, group II attended dissection-based training using laparoscopic dissection models, and group III attended lectures as well as dissection-based laparoscopic training. To assess the improvement of anatomical knowledge, all students had to complete a practical test before, immediately after, and two weeks after training. Data were analyzed with mixed modeling.
Results: Forty-six students participated in this study. No significant difference in results was observed among the three groups before the start of training. Immediately after the course, groups II and III scored significantly higher than group I (P < .001; P < .001), and group II scored higher than group III (P = .009). The difference between group I and groups II and III persisted during follow-up (P = 012; P = .001). The difference between groups II and III disappeared.
Conclusions: Three-dimensional anatomy education with dissection models enhances anatomy learning by medical students. Students who received dissection-based training scored higher in the short- and long term compared with students who did not receive this type of education.