Review from the Melbourne University Medical Students Society

Ask anyone who’s a few semesters into their course and they can tell you that one of their major disappointments with the course has been Anatomy. In particular contact hours are minimal, the tutor/cadaver per student ratio maximal. In the study of anatomy, understanding concepts is crucial to succeeding and while many textbooks cover concepts extensively, too often are they also unorganized, confusing and information overloaded. Well meddies have no fear, An@tomedia is here. An@tomedia stands for A New Approach TO Medical Education: Developments In Anatomy. It is a self-learning resource, presenting information at a level you require as a medical student with the flexibility to choose your sequence, rate and depth of learning. Several modules including back, thorax, abdomen and pelvis have already been published, but it’s the general anatomy module that no student should be without. An@tomedia is fully interactive, allowing you to explore the human body from 4 different perspectives; dissection, systems, regions and imaging. With the general anatomy module you will be guided through the principles of dissection and learn the anatomical basis behind and the techniques used to perform several general procedures such as wound closures, nerve blocks and arterial puncture. Maneuvering your way through the systems perspective you learn about the structure and function of bones, joints, muscle, viscera, nerves and vessels, allowing you to systematically build your knowledge of important concepts such as anastomoses and junctional zones. The presence of hot dots on every screen and color overlays of all images allows self testing and clinical questions, with answers just a click away, complement the majority of topics discussed making study rewarding. Through interactive text and images you can similarly map out all the regions of the body and clearly understand surface and functional anatomy. In your first few prac classes you would have been introduced to the thoroughly confusing world of radiographs, MRIs, CTs and ultrasound. The imaging perspective is a unique resource in that in addition to explaining the principles of imaging techniques; it assists you in learning on how to read X-rays, MRIs and the like in your own time away from 20 other students asking the tutor what that dark thing beneath that slightly darker thing is. An@tomedia will never be able to fully supplant the value of real-life, hands-on dissections and tutor-guided prac classes, but nevertheless it is an important tool in modern-day study of medicine. With more and more modules currently available it may become pricey to own all modules but we highly recommended you at least own General Anatomy and make use of the others in the SCRC and the Museum.     


If the anatomy of the back is sending shivers up your spine, then you need to consult your friendly An@tomedia. Far more than just a computerised atlas, the program helps you relate traditional anatomy textbook information of structures directly to their dissected appearance. For pre-clinical students in Semester 3, you should view the relevant slides in the dissection perspective of an@tomedia before each practical class, so you know what you are looking at and what you should be looking for. It is also useful for understanding the lecture material presented, with particularly good schematic diagrams of  back muscles, and disc prolapse/herniation. An@tomedia is absolutely essential for the applied anatomy questions in the syllabus (both clinically important and examination-worthy), as these questions are answered within the program, rather than during lectures. The program contains far more detail than you will need to know at this stage, but remains a resource should you wish to come back to it in your clinical and even post-graduate years.  In clinical years, it provides access to dissection that you no longer have, and the coverage of procedures such as lumbar puncture and epidural anaesthesia will become more relevant as you are witnessing them in hospital. Imaging, that which is most mystifying to many medical students (of all years), is made so breathtakingly clear in an@tomedia that I regret not using it earlier. In this module, the focus is on plain radiography, which also comes with labeled image overlays that delineate the structures, and text that helps you identify normal and abnormal presentations. The many aspects covered in an@tomedia make it a very useful and efficient resource to enhance your anatomy.

It takes a lot of guts to study the abdomen and an@tomedia remains your best guide for the journey.  Preclinical students should use the dissection perspective before each practical class, to get a  good idea of what they will be looking at and what they should be looking for, as it vastly increases the benefits of attending.  The abdomen module, in addition to the embalmed cadaver dissection, contains an unembalmed post-mortem dissection, as well as dissections of excised viscera.       Important concepts that are traditionally difficult to grasp, such as the structure of the inguinal canal, are shown to great effect in the systems perspective, with labeled, layer-by-layer construction.  An@tomedia allows you to to quickly move between schematic and dissected views, helping you to understand the crucial concept of intraperitoneal and retroperitoneal abdominal viscera.  The many imaging modalities of the abdomen are explored in this module, and while it is interesting to watch the endoscopy video footage, the imaging is not as immediately useful to pre-clinical students as it is in other modules.  An@tomedia provides the answers to the applied anatomy questions of the syllabus (which are both clinically important and prime examination fodder) that you do not receive in lectures.  An@tomedia goes into more detail on many topics than you will need to know in Semester 2, especially as you may be still grappling with the terminology, but you will return to it in later years, for example in semester 4, to review the lumbar plexus.  In clinical years, you may wish to review procedures you are witnessing or assisting with, such as liver and kidney biopsy, abdominal incisions and peritoneal tap, vasectomy and hydrocele tap, as well as achieving a greater understanding of the surface anatomy used in your clinical examinations.  For efficient anatomy study outside of class, consult an@tomedia.


An@tomedia Thorax provides a wealth of knowledge across the four domains of An@tomedia; dissection, systems, regions and imaging. Most impressive are the post-mortem dissections that show the internal organs in situ and excised where the color of the organs is not altered by the fixation process that prac class cadavers go through. Procedures such as pneumothorax treatment are discussed according to anatomical basis and factors critical in selecting site for a procedure and possible hazards, something that often appears on exams but is not always covered in the busy prac sessions. Similarly the other 3 perspectives are on the ball with what we need to know coming out of Semester 4 and the beauty of it is that after a few years when more detailed knowledge of anatomy is required these CDs will still remain helpful and relevant. Packed with relevant clinical questions and easy to understand diagrammatic representations of hard to visualize regions, An@tomedia Thorax is an exciting development that incorporates both textbook and atlas in one easy to use format. Available to purchase from the bookroom, but if the budget does not provide for such luxuries make sure you use facilities provided at the SCRC and Anatomy museum.


An@tomedia Pelvis is the newest addition to the An@tomedia family with the same trademark interactive and appealing approach we are familiar with from previous modules. It is covered from the four usual perspectives (dissection, regions, systems and imaging) setting it apart from most anatomy textbooks available on the market. From the dissection perspective you can layer by layer construct and deconstruct both the male and female pelvis and perineum and guide yourself through the fully labeled images. In addition, you are introduced to some of the general procedures such as urinary catherization and rectal examinations while in the systems and regions perspectives you learn anatomical concepts and their relevant applications. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in your prac classes to the point where you cannot distinguish muscle from fascia but with colored and interactive overlays of individual structures, using An@tomedia you get more of an idea what’s what and where. The imaging perspectives is a great tool because it allows you to in your own time examine radiographs and MRIs and focus on identifying key landmarks rather then just rushing at the end of prac class. Overall, An@tomedia Pelvis is another valuable instrument that if used wisely and sufficiently would enhance your study of anatomy. It’s available in the computer room and the anatomy museum, so please do make use of it.



Review from the Melbourne University Medical Students Society, 2006