Modeled Anatomy Software vs Real Anatomy Software

August 3, 2020

First a Story

Follow this roleplay for a second:

You are a car mechanic training an apprentice. You don’t want an inexperienced apprentice working with real client cars (because of the risk), so we'll say her education will be from a fake model in the backroom – a 2008 Honda Civic missing some details.

It is sufficient to practice most repairs needed in a mechanics repertoire. However, her education will lack experience with variations in structure, mileage, gas, oil, accidents, etc. that models cannot account for. Regardless, you conclude that this model will get the job done and your apprentice is ready to start. The problem is that you don’t find models in the field. You find real cars with varying history that leads to unique wear and tear. And while this apprentice may pass all of the model derived tests, would you trust them to work on your car?

That is the issue in anatomy education today. We push students to review their textbook front and back. We provide them with occasional dissection opportunities. We encourage them to observe work in the field. We use the best models that money can buy.

But when graduation arrives, they will see real anatomy in the field. And just like the cars, we don’t see models in the field – we see the real thing. And just like the mechanics apprentice - if we study with models and not real anatomy, well, good luck.

Now the Facts

Modeled anatomy software doesn't include the components to prepare students for post-academic success.  For those confused: Modeled anatomy software utilizes computer-generated visualizations based on photographs, illustrations, and the anatomical knowledge of the artist, that generalizes natural variations to create a baseline representation of human anatomy.

We use physical and virtual anatomy models for:

  • Engaging students with hands-on activities
  • Introducing different learning modalities
  • Learning simple, introductory anatomical concepts 

When compared to textbook and lecture only curriculum, modeled data fulfils all of those bullet points. Compared to using real anatomy software? Not so much.

Here is where modeled anatomy software falls short:

  • Modeled anatomy fails to account for the diversity of human body variations.
  • Modeled anatomy cannot accurately depict certain nuanced body systems and circumstances.
  • Modeled anatomy provides inadequate student comprehension when compared to the use of real anatomy.

Modeled anatomy falls short because, as many of you know, anatomy is rarely as neat and simple as it is portrayed in these applications. Real anatomy is riddled with natural variations based on body type and gender, health status, patient age and developmental stage, existing conditions, and abnormal pathology. Using real patient data in anatomy curriculum provides students an accurate understanding of the diversity of the human body – which is where BodyViz can help.

Why Education Requires Real Anatomy Software

A core tenant of the BodyViz 3D Anatomy Learning Platform is that we use real patient data to create our visualizations. This is done using complex mathematical algorithms to render visualizations directly from medical imaging data. Imagine stacking individual MRI or CT scan slices like a deck of cards. From that stack, the BodyViz rendering engine interpolates between every individual pixel on each medical imaging slice and transforms the 2D data into a 3D visualization. Although the algorithm and rendering software seem very complex, because it is, the software itself is extremely easy for students and instructors to learn and use. 

In addition to the benefits provided with modeled anatomy, using real anatomy software in education provides benefits such as:

  • Visualizing complex 3D spatial relationships
  • Showcasing realistic and broad variations in human anatomy
  • Providing real-world examples of patient injuries and disease
  • Preparing students for their post-academic careers

The chart shown below compares the features and benefits between modeled anatomy software and real anatomy software. Although modeled anatomy software may seem like a great resource at first glance, there are many features missing from these software packages that students require in order to truly master the anatomical learning objectives in the curriculum. 

Modeled data can only take education so far. At some point you need to switch over to real anatomy, and sooner is better than later. If you're interested in learning more about the benefits real anatomy software can provide for you and your students, check out the helpful links provided below or schedule a demo with our team today!

Helpful Links