ANZ J Surgery Review

Anatomedia: a New Approach to Medical Education Developments in Anatomy. By N. EIZENBERG, C. BRIGGS, P. BARKER and I. GRKOVIC. Australia: University of Melbourne, 2000-2005. CD-ROM. 5 disks. General Anatomy: ISBN 0 734 02691 9; Thorax: ISBN 0 734 02675 7; Back: ISBN 0 734 026765; Abdomen: ISBN 0 734 02677 3; Pelvis: ISBN 0 734 02729 X. Price A$69.95 to $139.00 per disk.

Not an atlas, not an anatomy text nor an electronic version of a book, this is a timely, fresh approach to anatomy. This award-winning publication makes unique and ingenious use of computer-assisted learning. 

Anatomedia is a dissection-based learning resource, a CD-ROM, which works on modem Macintosh and IBM PC computers. 

The five disks released so far cover general anatomy, thorax, abdomen, pelvis and back. The author Norman Eizenberg and his team at University of Melbourne's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology have produced a novel response to the reduction of anatomy in new medical school curricula. The modem student of medicine can supplement a scanty exposure to anatomical dissection and specimens by using this tool in now-familiar computer interactive fashion. 

The work is consistently organized with four interesting perspectives on each disk - dissection, systems, regions and imaging. The actual dissected specimens are brilliant, viewable layer by layer, with optional 'hot-dot' labels, and recreate the combined experience of a dissecting room, anatomical atlas, dissecting manual and tutorial. 

The first disk gives a very good introduction to general anatomical concepts. The other disks reinforce the conceptual and functional philosophy of the work. Copious clinical and procedural applications are provided in each area, including surgical approaches. Surface anatomy, imaging and sectional anatomy are well treated in each region, preparing the student for the physical examination of patients and the interpretation of radiographs and scans in clinical practice. Interactive text is well prioritized, and the 'hot-dot' labels on the images and clinical questions (with answers) guide the student through each area, reminiscent of an anatomy demonstrator in action. 

As an example in the thorax, the normal aortic arch, branches and relations are well shown and some variations described. Changing terminology can be a challenge; here it is consistent and gives few problems. The heart and coronary anatomy are easy to follow, although an extra label of the modem clinical parlance 'left anterior descending branch' would prepare students to recognize the anterior interventricular coronary artery when it is referred to in practice. 

As examples in the abdomen, the peritoneal recesses and inguinal canal that are difficult concepts are shown here accurately and explained clearly. 

Embryology is a traditional part of anatomical understanding. Normal development and some abnormalities are outlined here, but perhaps future disks will consolidate the topic to explain conditions such as arch variations, branchial cysts, abnormal cavae, congenital cardiac and urological anomalies and maldescent of testes. 

Specialists will naturally need much more detailed knowledge in their own areas. This applies particularly to surgeons, proceduralists, pathologists, manipulative therapists and diagnostic imagers and stresses the need for a further study of anatomy and dissection opportunities in their training programmes. But Anatomedia provides a very sound start, in easily assimilable bites and style, and anatomy always improves with periodic revision. Students, medical faculties and libraries will eagerly await the next disks on head, neck and the limbs. 

Nothing yet invented beats actually dissecting the body for the privilege as a human to journey where many have fought so hard against religious and doctrinal obstacles, for naked-eye discovery and acquiring a working knowledge of how we're constructed, for marvel and awe at how we've evolved so closely packed and beautifully functional. Anatomedia helps those denied the opportunity of fully dissecting or operating on the body to sense the miracle it is and to practise better medicine. 


Vascular Surgery Unit
Royal Melbourne and Epworth Hospitals,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


"ANZ J Surgery Review", Australian & New Zealand Journal of Surgery, Vol. 76, 2006, p. 709