Teaching anatomy in 3D

19 September, 2013 / infocus

The world’s first anatomically accurate and interactive 3D head and neck learning resource is being piloted at six teaching laboratories across Scotland.

The 3D Digital Head and Neck was developed by the Digital Design Studio (DDS) at the Glasgow School of Art in association with NHS Education for Scotland.

The 3D Head and Neck will enable dissection education to be taken to the next level. Construction of the model required careful dissection of a cadaver, with laser scanning at each stage, to ensure that all anatomical details were captured in three dimensions. DDS then used its expertise to reconstruct the head and neck and develop software that could manipulate the model.

This extremely accurate model and software allows students to dissect the head and neck virtually, whether this is by rotating the head and neck, zooming in on specific areas or focusing on discrete anatomical structures such as nerves or blood vessels as often as they like. When used in one of the 3D teaching laboratories, students can immerse themselves in the anatomy of the head and neck and appreciate the relationship between different structures from any angle.

Professor Paul Anderson, DDS director, said: “It is the highest resolution 3D model of a human male head and neck currently available in the world, which includes dynamic transparency and culling of volumes.

“It enables immediate recognition of related anatomical structures, from superficial to deep, thus allowing easy identification of structures that may be at risk from medical or surgical intervention.”

Integral to the development of the interactive anatomy model was the development of an innovative, interactive dental injection simulator. This simulator gives students the opportunity to feel what it is like to give a dental local anaesthetic injection and links this with the anatomical model to check that the injection would have been successful.

The simulator allows students to practice giving injections as often as they want with no consequences to patients and helps them feel less apprehensive when giving their first injections to real patients.

In fact, dentists at Dundee and Glasgow Dental Schools involved in the testing of the simulator have commented that, despite their years of experience, they feel more comfortable giving injections having used the simulator.

To ensure that dental teams and undergraduates are able to take advantage of the new educational resources, NES has invested in state of the art 3D teaching laboratories in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness and Stornoway.

All the centres are linked and it is possible for a tutor in one centre to lead a lesson with students at multiple centres at the same time. This capability is already being used by hygiene/therapy students of the University of the Highlands and Islands based in Dumfries, Inverness and Stornoway.
Dr David Felix, NES dean for dental training, said: “The project has produced user friendly resources which put Scotland at the forefront of education and training internationally, not just within dentistry but also for other disciplines.”

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