Not All Virtual Anatomy is Created Equal

January 27, 2022

Which would you prefer? Plastic anatomy model, computer

In a recent article by Pitri Mishall, Eiman Abdel Meguid, Mohammad Khali, and Lisa Lee, titled Transition to Effective Online Anatomical Sciences Teaching and Assessments in the Pandemic Era of COVID-19 Should be Evidence-Based, these experienced educators shine a light on the long-lasting impacts the pandemic will have on anatomy learning.  With a transition from traditional anatomy learning using hands-on petrified cadavers, to a new need for a virtual body that is an interactive cadaver through virtual anatomy dissection, instructors and students are having to adapt and overcome.

There are multiple types of virtual anatomy that possess different amounts of reality and computer generated imagination within the anatomy visualizations. In this article, we hope to clarify the differences and options with anatomy education visualizations. 

What is virtual anatomy?

There are three basic types of computer-generated anatomy—visualizations that are derived from modeled data and visualizations that are directly rendered from scientific data. We refer to a visualization that is a mix of modeled and scientific data as a hybrid visualization.

Modeled visualizations are based on photographs, illustrations, and anatomical knowledge. The designer generalizes natural variations to create a typical representation of human anatomy. With a hybrid visualization, MRI and CT scans are manually manipulated to add effects to highlight structures.

Anatomy is rarely so neat and simple. Real anatomy is riddled with natural variations--body type and gender, health status, patient age and developmental stage, existing conditions, and abnormal pathology. Using real patient data in anatomy learning provides students an accurate understanding of the diversity of the human body.

Real patient data visualizations use 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 virtual anatomy visualization. 

What does a visualization of real patient data look like?

BodyViz virtual anatomy is a direct volumetric rendering of medical imaging data. All of the images on our site were created using MRI and CT visualizations. The following videos feature real patient data rendered into a 3D human anatomy software. In these short segments, you will also see how virtual anatomy can be used for 3D dissection and improve anatomy curriculum and patient education.

1 Min Overview of BodyViz 3D Anatomy Learning Software

How to Create Interactive Anatomy Content with BodyViz Pro

In the article by Mishall, Meguid, Khalail, and Lee, they state, “During COVID-19, the need for digital course conversion added an extra challenge due to the hands-on nature of the subject and the significant reliance on laboratory activities.” With BodyViz real 3D Anatomy, there is no compromise to having a hands-on virtual dissection experience. With an ever-growing library consisting of 1,000s of virtual cadaver options and the ability to upload your own MRI and CT scans- BodyViz provides limitless anatomy learning.

Learn more about BodyViz and see our real 3D Anatomy Software!

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Mishall, P.L., Meguid, E.M.A., Khalil, M.K. et al. Transition to Effective Online Anatomical Sciences Teaching and Assessments in the Pandemic Era of COVID-19 Should be Evidence-Based. Med.Sci.Educ. (2022). 

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