To study the human body in the dissecting laboratory is an unique opportunity. The dissection laboratory provides an environment in which the senses of touch and sight can be used to enhance one's understanding of the human body. One can truly see and feel structures which course beneath the skin, e.g. nerves, arteries and veins. Although the number of laboratory hours in gross anatomy courses have decreased in most medical schools, the dissection laboratory continues to be an educational setting in which students of anatomy gain a three-dimensional perspective of structural relationships.
This manual was developed to facilitate learning of human anatomy. A central goal of the manual is to allow greater efficiency in the use of students' time in the laboratory, as well as in preparation and review. The method of dissection described in this manual represents a regional approach. Although the anatomy is presented regionally, it is incumbent upon the student to also view the human body from a systemic perspective.
The laboratory manual is divided into seven regional units. Within each unit, chapters focus on specific subregions. Each chapter is a laboratory assignment which is divided into four basic sections: (1) overview, (2) osteology, (3) step-by-step dissection instructions and, (4) summary terms.
In the overview section, the objectives of the dissection are identified. In the osteology section, major bony landmarks are reviewed. In the laboratory section, four innovative features are used:
A sequence of dissection steps defines which structures are to be identified and distinctly directs students how and where to cut and reflect given structures.
Numbers in the text refer to videodisc dissection images that demonstrate the anatomical structures. These images can be accessed using a videodisc player and a TV monitor with or without a computer interface. References are made to figures in three current editions of commonly used atlases.
(Grant's Atlas of Anatomy, 9th edition; Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy, 1st and 2nd editions; and Rohen and Yokochi's Color Atlas of Anatomy, 3rd edition) which are correlated with steps of the dissection. Steps of dissections are organized as a check list which provides the student with a distinct and succinct guide to accomplish and review a given dissection. In summary, this section of the manual is designed to provide a definite plan of study and a means of making the best use of the time allotted for dissection.
Upon consultation with the laboratory instructor, required laboratory instruments can be obtained. The following instruments are essential: blunt-pointed scissors, a scalpel, forceps (rat-tooth and non rat-tooth), and a metal probe. Dissecting skills are developed with practice. Since dissecting skills are typically acquired by hands-on experience, the students will improve their skills in the human anatomy laboratory as they complete each dissection exercise. One of the initial challenges in the dissecting laboratory is developing the ability to distinguish between arteries, veins and nerves. Veins have relatively thin walls that collapse easily; arteries have thicker walls and are round and lighter in color. Nerves are solid structures, also whitish in appearance, and have more tensile strength than the arteries. Consult a reference text to learn the anatomical position of the body and the terms that describe position, anatomical planes, anatomical relationships, and movements. Appropriate use of anatomical terminology is essential in communicating one's findings in the anatomy laboratory as well as in the clinical setting. The identification of the components of the human body is the foundation of all health related training.
The text for this manual is incorporated into a computer-assisted software program. The manual can be used with the program to enhance one's learning. The computer program has testing and self-assessment functions that use the video images. This enables students to assess their knowledge of any assignment or region of the body. After completing a self-assessment examination students are given their scores and may review the questions which were missed.
Note: The drawings of the upper and lower extremities are of the right side of the body, except for the drawings of the forearm and hand (Laboratories 7 to 9. The drawings in the later chapters are of the left side. This was done so that the illustrations correlated as much as possible with the videodisc images.
Transverse sections were drawn from the perspective defined radiologically, i.e. looking at the cut surface from the perspective of standing at the toes of a patient and looking towards the head.