Getting back to the dissecting room: An evaluation of an innovative course in musculoskeletal anatomy for UK-based rheumatology training

Musculoskeletal Care. 2017 Dec;15(4):405-412. doi: 10.1002/msc.1188. Epub 2017 Mar 20.


Background: The rheumatologist relies heavily on clinical skills to diagnose diverse conditions, something that is correlated with one's knowledge of clinical anatomy. More recently, rheumatology has offered further career flexibility with opportunities to develop skills such as joint injection and musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound, both of which require a sound understanding of anatomy. Currently, there are no formal strategies to support competency-based anatomy learning in rheumatology in the UK. This study aimed to evaluate an innovative applied anatomy course utilizing cadaveric material, targeted at clinicians practising in rheumatology and MSK medicine.

Methods: A new course was developed for rheumatologists, rheumatology trainees and allied health professionals practising rheumatology and MSK medicine, with the principal focus being on applied MSK anatomy. A questionnaire was given to course attendees and a mixed methods approach of evaluation used. Descriptive statistical data analysis was performed.

Results: The course received overall positive feedback and statistically significant improvements in levels of confidence in anatomy (mean 52.35-83.53, p < 0.0001), injections (mean 57.65-81.18, p < 0.0001), examination of the upper limb (mean 60.59-76.47, p < 0.0001) and examination of the lower limb (mean 58.24-77.65, p < 0.0001). Course attendees also favoured a peer-assisted and multidisciplinary learning approach.

Conclusions: This study lends support for the use of cadaveric material in the teaching of postgraduate anatomy to rheumatologists. It has demonstrated a continual need for hands-on and interactive anatomy training in an ever-advancing digital world. To be successful, cadaveric learning should not be viewed in a purely 'pre-clinical' setting, but instead integrated with postgraduate learning.

Keywords: anatomy; curriculum; education; medical; musculoskeletal; postgraduate; rheumatology.

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy / education*
  • Dissection
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Musculoskeletal System / anatomy & histology
  • Rheumatology / education*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires