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PRSonally Speaking
Thursday, August 8, 2013
The Virtual Dissection Table and iPad Anatomy Apps
by Adrian Murphy
From as early as 1600BC humans have learnt about the anatomy of their own species from undertaking anatomical dissections. For generations of medical students undertaking cadaveric dissections represented a rite of passage into the world of anatomical knowledge and subsequent treatment of more extant patients. Technology may be about to revolutionize ritual for today’s medical students, however.

The 3D virtual anatomical dissection table has arrived and has already replaced cadaveric dissection for students at a number of medical schools around the world. This life-size 3D interactive virtual dissection table allows students to interact with anatomy by using a virtual knife to cut away layers of the body at any angle, rotate the body in any direction, and also isolate structures. Students can cut the body, peel off soft tissue or remove an organ with their fingers. And unlike cadavers, the students can redo and undo the dissection again and again.

 The table comes with a gross anatomy model rendered from CT scan data but can also open any data from CT, MRI, and ultra-sound to allow for customized dissections as well as pre-operative planning. It may not have the visceral feel (or smell) of a real cadaver but may for reasons of cost and palatability be the future for many medical schools.

For those of us without the budgets or space for a full operating table-sized touchscreen there is always the iPad though. There are a large number of anatomy apps available for tablet devices, many of which offer excellent information resources to students and practicing surgeons alike.

The classics such as Gray’s and Netter’s have both free and paid for apps. The free versions tend to be quite light on detail and really serve as a taster prior to buying the full version – which can be as expensive as the old-fashioned text book (Netter’s retails for $89.99). The iPad version of Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy contains 531 different images which are easily accessed using the built in browser. The advantage of the app over a regular book is the interactive nature which the digital version offers. Tapping on a pin brings up information related to the indicated structure such as origins, insertions, innervation, vascular supply and actions. It is possible to switch the labels off to allow the user to test themselves.

For those who like their anatomy with a more artistic flavor there is a stunning Leonardo da Vinci iPad app produced by the Royal Collection Trust. This app features high resolution reproductions of all 268 of Leonardo’s anatomical drawings held in the British Royal Collection. As well as viewing these stunning drawings in detail the app also allows users to reverse and translate the thousands of notes made by the artist in his distinctive mirror-writing, direct from the pages of his notebooks.
About the Blog

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

PRSonally Speaking is the official blog of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Visit our blog for exclusive previews of and discussions on hot topics in plastic surgery as well as insider-tips on open access content. PRSonally Speaking is now powered by frequent contributions from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ Young Plastic Surgeons Forum (YPS); these practicing plastic surgeons provide the personal side of the plastic surgery story, from daily challenges to unique insights. PRSonally Speaking is home to lively, civil debate on hot topics and great discussions pertaining to our field. So, bookmark us, subscribe to the RSS feed and join in the on-going conversation with Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. This is your Journal; have fun, be respectful, get engaged and interact with the PRS community.

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Anureet K. Bajaj, MD is a practicing plastic surgeon in Oklahoma City. She completed residency and fellowship in 2004, had a brief stint in academia at the University of Cincinnati, and then chose to join her father (Paramjit Bajaj MD, also a practicing plastic surgeon) in private practice in OKC, where she focuses on breast reconstruction and general cosmetic surgeries.

Devra B. Becker, MD, FACS, is an Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery in the Department of Plastic Surgery at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. She completed Plastic Surgery residency at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and completed fellowships with Daniel Marchac and with Bahman Guyuron. She currently has a primarily reconstructive practice.

Henry C. Hsia, MD, FACS is at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and also holds an appointment at Princeton University.  When he’s not working hard trying to be a good father and husband, he runs a practice focused on reconstructive surgery and wound care as well as a research lab focused on wound biology and regenerative medicine.

Stephanie K. Rowen, MD is a senior physician at The Permanente Medical Group in San Jose, California.  She joined TPMG upon finishing residency and a hand surgery fellowship in 2005.  She has a primarily reconstructive practice, about 50% hand surgery.  Outside of work she enjoys participating in triathlons and spending time with her family.

Jon Ver Halen, MD is currently Chief of plastic surgery, Baptist Cancer Center; Research member, Vanderbilt- Ingram Cancer Center; Adjunct clinical faculty, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He also acts as Program Director for the plastic surgery microvascular surgery fellowship. His practice focuses on oncologic reconstruction.

Tech Talk Bloggers

Adrian Murphy is a plastic surgery trainee in London, England. He studied medicine in Dublin, Ireland and has trained in Ireland, Boston, MA and the United Kingdom. He is a self-confessed geek and gadget aficionado.

Ash Patel, MD is Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery and Associate Program Director at Albany Medical College, in Albany NY. His practice is primarily reconstructive.