Ross University Blog

Anatomy Lab Goes High-Tech with Medical Imaging Facility and 3-D Tools

June 19, 2014

Combining classical, cadaver-based teaching with a high-technology emphasis on medical imaging, the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) anatomy lab is more than a lab; it is a Facility for Anatomical Sciences and Medical Imaging. Medical imaging serves as the bridge between the basic sciences and clinical medicine. An average of four students are assigned to each table with access to the hi-tech equipment including, high definition cameras, projection screens and 45 computers, so that students “have what they need to find the answer to any study question,” said Sheila Nunn, Ph.D., the Department of Anatomy’s interim chair and professor. The facility also houses an osteology study room, and a medical imaging room, as well as a separate neuroscience lab suitable for the study of central nervous system specimens.

To ensure the facility is conducive for both the students and faculty, the facility is designed as a complex, or a center. It is fitted with a 60-ton special air-handling system that replaces the air in the lab every ten minutes with fresh air. The lab temperature is closely monitored by a series of sensors, which are remotely monitored over the internet. The cadavers are all donated through the Willed Body Program in the U.S. and shipped inside a refrigerated container to Dominica. To ensure the integrity of these cadavers, every cadaver is carefully handled by a team of dedicated technicians. In the lab, the bodies are maintained in stainless steel deep tanks.

The cadaver lab helps the students to actively learn anatomy and provides an opportunity to develop other important skills including professionalism, teamwork, stress management, leadership and communication. For example, each member of the dissection table participates in reading, dissecting and demonstrating to other members in a “learn-one, do-one and teach-one” model.

“Students also get to see anatomical variation,” said Nunn. Students can conduct research projects if they find something of interest, and many have presented posters based on their findings at the school’s Research Day events as well as national conferences. Small-group learning, discussion, and teamwork are integral to the work at the dissection tables.

The imaging room is fitted with an interactive smartboard, a 3D flat screen and computer projector screen, a variety of anatomical technological platforms including the visual human dissector, OSIRIX (medical imaging resource) and various atlases. The students can therefore don 3-D glasses for viewing the visual human dissection images in 3D, which allows them to understand relationships between structures more easily than from a 2D image. This activity “makes the learning process fun,” said Nunn. This tool is utilized by the students in the first weeks of their study of anatomy.

Sandor Vigh, M.D., professor of anatomy and former chair, said that the facility combines, “traditional values, high-tech equipment emphasizing medical imaging, and highly-trained faculty.” Students are free to use the medical imaging tools from early morning until late at night.

“All of this technology is here for students to use whenever they want. They can turn on the computers and get access to everything,” Vigh said. There are also student clubs devoted to radiographic and medical imaging, whose members use the facility and the database of cases.

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