DR. S.V. SINGH, OMBUDSPERSON - E-mail ID: ombudsperson@santosh.ac.in

Anatomy is a cornerstone of health profession’s education .A deep understanding of anatomy is fundamental for safe clinical practice for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other health related professionals. A solid understanding of normal anatomy and function enhances students’ ability to recognize how normal structure and function may be affected when anatomy has been altered as the result of injury or disease.

The long history of using cadavers to gain knowledge of anatomy dates back more than 2500 years. Utilizing cadaveric dissections in anatomy education allows various advantages: promotion of active and deep learning, preparation of students for clinical practice, exposure of students to death, practice of clinical skills, development of empathy and stress coping strategies, and correlation of patients’ symptoms and pathology.Although learning anatomy by cadaveric dissection is a traditional, time-proven method, it is not without negative aspects such as cost and exposure to formaldehyde.

Cadaveric dissection is considered the “gold standard,“ , however, the evolution of technology in recent years has produced virtual cadaver dissection, skeletons, prosections, mannequins, models, radiographs, plastinated specimens, and surface anatomy are frequently used in human anatomy education.


a)A unique advantage of utilizing cadavers is that dissection is often students’ first encounter with death, reminding  the students of the reality of disease.

b)Cadavers have the ability to teach students to respect their patient, even after death. Depth perception can also best be appreciated when dissecting on a cadaver.

C)This spatial orientation and visualization of relationships between structures is a commonly cited advantage to cadaveric dissection.

d) A cadaver gives regional anatomy a context in the entire organism and imparts an appreciation of anatomical variability between individual specimens.

e) Dissection helps students identify structures along with tactile information on tissue texture, which provides kinesthetic learning with 3D visualization of anatomic structures. This is especially important in the education of health professionals who will be working with patients where competency in human anatomy is most vital.


a)A primary disadvantage to cadaveric dissection is that once a structure is cut or damaged during dissection, it cannot be reconstructed

b) Cadavers are often cumbersome and difficult to reposition, constraining students’ visualization of certain structures.

c)The dissection sequence is also relatively fixed with a cadaver. For example, the abdominal organs cannot be dissected without first dissecting the anterior abdominal wall. This makes it challenging to re-visit completed dissections on a cadaver.

d)Students performing cadaveric dissections take two to four times longer to complete than other learning strategies for human anatomy. Increased time is required to remove the

e) A disadvantage of using cadavers and dissection is the reoccurring cost. As the cost of higher education continues to rise, financial responsibility of institutions is coming under increasing scrutiny. The revolving cost of acquiring cadavers, maintaining a functional dissection environment, and the treatment of cadaver remains are not insignificant


Virtual dissection has some advantages over cadaveric dissections.

a)The virtual dissection is operated by touch or styluses and provides life-size digital cadavers of male and female bodies, which can be rotated, magnified, labeled, and dissected with virtual scalpels.

b) Students can isolate structures in three-dimensional form, dissect, reconstruct, magnify, and transect regions and structures to appreciate anatomical form and relationships. The ability to reconstruct and save dissections is a unique feature that provides visualization and personalization to students.

c)Unlike cadaveric dissection, virtual dissection allows the same structure or region to be dissected repeatedly and customized to the students’ specific needs. Structures are indestructible and safe from inexperienced dissection.

d)Students can perform virtual dissections with greater time-efficiency and more seamless than cadaveric dissections.


a)With no manipulation of human tissues, virtual dissection prevents students from appreciating the feel and texture of specific anatomic organs, such as muscles, tendons, bones, heart, and lungs, which limits the tactile form of learning.

b)Smooth and effective integration of technology into the classroom can be challenging. Faculty must be adequately trained related to using the technology and incorporating technology into pedagogy, and if faculty are not provided this training, they will not be capable of using it to its full potential.

c)With the ongoing advancement and upgrades related virtual cadavers, this training needs to be ongoing.

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