Living and post-mortem CT scans in the gross anatomy lab: A study investigating differences in first-year medical students' exam performance and perceptions

Anat Sci Educ. 2024 Apr-May;17(3):468-482. doi: 10.1002/ase.2371. Epub 2024 Jan 11.


Basic competency in radiological imaging is essential for physicians to identify and manage diseases. An optimal place in which to include imaging in the medical curriculum is during anatomy as students can correlate the 3D anatomy from their body donors with the 2D cross-sectional anatomy. The goal of this project was to enhance first-year medical students' knowledge of cross-sectional imaging in the gross anatomy lab and to investigate whether there are benefits to learning cross sectional imaging via scans from body donors versus living individuals. Student participant performance was evaluated on laboratory practical examinations, CT image questions and spatial anatomical knowledge in the thorax and abdomen sections of gross anatomy. Students learned the cross-sectional imaging during dissections where they accessed the images relevant to their study on Pacsbin, a web-based Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine viewer, via iPads. Results showed no statistically significant differences in practical examination scores, spatial anatomical knowledge, or identification of anatomical structures on CT image questions between participants who learned from images on body donors versus living individuals. In a questionnaire given at the end of the course, participants cited that the CT images improved their anatomical and imaging knowledge and that they felt better prepared to use imaging software and interpret diagnostic imaging results upon entering clerkships. While there were no differences in academic performance between the groups, positive outcomes regarding student perceptions of anatomical and imaging knowledge and preparedness for use of imaging software were identified in this study.

Keywords: CT imaging; body donors; gross anatomy education; medical education; medical students.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy* / education
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate* / methods
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Humans
  • Postmortem Imaging
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires