Background: Radiologic imaging is increasingly utilized as supplemental material in preclinical gross anatomy courses, but few studies have investigated its utility as a fully integrated instructional tool.
Aims: Establish the benefit of a teaching method that simultaneously correlates cadaveric and radiologic structures for learning human anatomy.
Method: We performed a mixed-methods randomized controlled trial and one-way cross-over study comparing exam grades and subjective student perception in a gross anatomy course. The intervention consisted of daily direct correlation small group sessions in which students simultaneously identified and correlated radiologic and cadaveric structures. The control method utilized identical laboratory and teaching conditions but students did not simultaneously correlate structures. Spatial relationships of structures within each respective media (gross or radiologic) were emphasized in both groups.
Results: No significant differences in radiology, gross, or written exam scores were observed between the intervention and control groups. The cross-over group preferred the intervention and control methods equally. The correlation teaching sessions ranked equally with active dissection as the most important instructional components of the course.
Conclusion: Direct, simultaneous correlation of radiologic and cadaveric structures did not affect exam scores or student preference but helped students understand anatomical concepts in comparison with other course components.