Lancet Review: An@tomedia

4 images from Anatomedia
A selection of images from An@tomedia

N Eizenberg, C Briggs, P Barker, I Grkovic.
Melbourne: Anatomedia Pty, 2000-03.
$269.85 for 3 CD-ROMs
. General Anatomy ISBN 0 734 02691 9; Thorax ISBN 0 734 02675 7; and Back/Abdomen ISBN 0 646 40731 7.

You probably remember your anatomy course with some trepidation - endless hours spent memorising thousands of Latin terms before attempting to put them in the context of the human body and of clinical practice. When I received the three CDs that comprise An@tomedia, I wondered, as an anatomy teacher, whether they offered more than the many anatomy programs already available. I quickly concluded that An@tomedia would have revolutionised my student days.

Technophobes should be reassured about the ease of use of this multimedia package. The first step was simple: the CDs were easy to install and specifications readily met by most modern computers. The most important requirements are a 2 MB video card and QuickTime 5.02 or higher (an installation program for QuickTime 6.0 is included).

I started with the General Anatomy CD, and was immediately convinced of its quality. It is introduced by a video clip explaining anatomical terminology and the CD's four-pronged approach: systems and regions are discussed from a theoretical perspective, and dissection and imaging from a practical one. I was especially impressed with the section on general dissection, ,which had detailed explanations of dissections and post-mortem procedures as well as clinically relevant procedures such as incision and wound closure, joint and body cavity taps, injection and nerve blocks, and vascular access. These details are useful not only for beginners in anatomy, but also for older students doing clinical rounds; remembering the anatomical basis of what they are expected to do every day on the ward will surely help students feel more comfortable, as well as improving patients' wellbeing.


The section of the General Anatomy CD on regional anatomy is also superb. I especially liked the parts on human form and structure, which related the structure of the human body to that of other mammals and vertebrates. The section is also an excellent introduction to body growth and development, normal variations in structure and position, pathological changes, and the principles behind dividing the body into regions. The imaging section includes many plain and contrast radiographs, and CT, MRI, ultrasonography, and endoscopy images.

The systems section covers major organs and somatic systems. useful images are always available in a window on the left-hand side, which is flanked by buttons enabling outlining or colouring of specific structures. A feature especially helpful for self-directed learning is the "hot dot": a device which highlights important structures whose proper anatomical name is revealed by a roll of the mouse.

The text follows the Terminologia Anatomica. This approach is commendable; many anatomy books and atlases still do not follow the nomenclature of the Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology, agreed in 1998. The text is concise and engaging and contains many questions. Clicking on an individual question opens a separate window with the explanation. Each screen also has a constant "interaction" panel in the lower right-hand corner, which enables switching among the four sections. There is also a link to the indexthat allows you to search for a specific structure. The other two CDs, Thorax and Back/Abdomen, have the same user interface and offer the same quality of images and interactive approach to anatomical structures.

An@tomedia is a product of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Melbourne, Australia. I found more than 60 names in the list of credits - a clear indication of the complexity and extent of the work behind this project, which is led by four anatomy teachers, all from the University of Melbourne.

The An@tomedia website ( announces the releases of five more modules: Neck, Head, Upper Limb, Lower Limb, and Pelvis. The Pelvis module is scheduled for 2004, and the other modules are to follow. An@tomedia is a project that will continue to develop, and one that has already received several awards for multimedia teaching aids.

An@tomedia will appeal not only to medical students, but also to medical practitioners. Health-care workers will find it useful for clinical practice and for communication with patients. I also recommend An@tomedia to teachers from countries where dissection is not done for cultural, financial, or other reasons. Although in learning anatomy nothing can replace actual dissection, An@tomedia will combine an interactive photographic atlas, gross anatomy dissection tool, radiology overview, coloured overlays, and anatomy textbook in a single multimedia package.

Ana Marušic
Zagreb University School of Medicine,
Salata 3, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia


Reprinted with permission from Elselvier
The Lancet, Volume 363 (Issue 9404), 17 January 2004, Page 254