European Radiology

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 2153–2160 | Cite as

Cadaver-specific CT scans visualized at the dissection table combined with virtual dissection tables improve learning performance in general gross anatomy

  • Daniel Paech
  • Frederik L. Giesel
  • Roland Unterhinninghofen
  • Heinz-Peter Schlemmer
  • Thomas Kuner
  • Sara Doll
Radiological Education



The purpose of this study was to quantify the benefit of the incorporation of radiologic anatomy (RA), in terms of student training in RA seminars, cadaver CT scans and life-size virtual dissection tables on the learning success in general anatomy.


Three groups of a total of 238 students were compared in a multiple choice general anatomy exam during first-year gross anatomy: (1) a group (year 2015, n 1 = 50) that received training in radiologic image interpretation (RA seminar) and additional access to cadaver CT scans (CT + seminar group); (2) a group (2011, n 2 = 90) that was trained in the RA seminar only (RA seminar group); (3) a group (2011, n 3 = 98) without any radiologic image interpretation training (conventional anatomy group). Furthermore, the students’ perception of the new curriculum was assessed qualitatively through a survey.


The average test score of the CT + seminar group (21.8 ± 5.0) was significantly higher when compared to both the RA seminar group (18.3 ± 5.0) and the conventional anatomy group (17.1 ± 4.7) (p < 0.001).


The incorporation of cadaver CT scans and life-size virtual dissection tables significantly improved the performance of medical students in general gross anatomy. Medical imaging and virtual dissection should therefore be considered to be part of the standard curriculum of gross anatomy.

Key Points

• Students provided with cadaver CT scans achieved 27 % higher scores in anatomy.

• Radiological education integrated into gross anatomy is highly appreciated by medical students.

• Simultaneous physical and virtual dissection provide unique conditions to study anatomy.


Radiology Gross anatomy CT scans Cadaver CT scans Medical education 



We would like to express our sincerest thanks and appreciation to Prof. Dr. Joachim Kirsch for visionary initiating the implementation of radiologic imaging modalities in gross anatomy and the team around Dr. Roland Unterhinninghofen for the enthusiastic contributions to the development of the Anatomy Map software. Particular thanks are also due to the tutors participating in the conception and realization of the new teaching curriculum.

The scientific guarantor of this publication is Prof. Dr. Thomas Kuner. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article. This study has received funding by the Klaus Tschira Foundation for the development of the AnatomyMap software. One of the authors (DP) has significant statistical expertise. No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper. Institutional review board approval and written informed consent were not required because all data presented in this manuscript were acquired in the course of quality assurance/quality improvement (QA/QI) measures at the Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Heidelberg. The purpose of these investigations is to assess and subsequently improve teaching in the gross anatomy curriculum. Since QA/QI studies are not subject to institutional ethical review, no institutional review board approval had to be requested.

No randomization of any student to any cohort was performed since QA /QI measures were performed before and after curriculum changes. The exams were not part of the final mark for the students. In particular, no individual score or answer by any student was investigated in the course of this study.

Some study subjects or cohorts have been previously reported in: (a) = (b) In the course of her bachelor thesis, Dr. Sara Doll compared the student cohorts from 2010/11 to quantitatively investigate the RA seminar: Doll S (2011) Virtuelle Lehr- und Lernwelten - Optionen und Nutzen. Dargestellt am Beispiel des Seminars “Virtuelle Anatomie” für Erstsemester Studierende an der Medizinischen Fakultät der Universität Heidelberg. DIPLOMA Fachhochschule Nordhessen. [German language]

Methodology: performed at one institution.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Paech
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frederik L. Giesel
    • 3
  • Roland Unterhinninghofen
    • 4
  • Heinz-Peter Schlemmer
    • 1
  • Thomas Kuner
    • 2
  • Sara Doll
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyGerman Cancer Research CenterHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Anatomy and Cell BiologyHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Department of Nuclear MedicineUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Anthropomatics, Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany

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