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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 75-77

Soul Anatomy: A virtual cadaver

Medical Student, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication30-Apr-2014

Correspondence Address:
Moaz Bambi
Medical Student, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/1658-600X.131754

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In the traditional science of medicine and medical education, teaching human anatomy in the class has always been done using human cadavers. Not only does this violate human sanctity, but according to our research, it is not adequate to provide students with the alleged educational value that it is supposed to deliver. It is very cumbersome to organise all the aspects of cadaver care. Cadavers are also very limited when it comes to controlling their structures and any benefit is almost completely altered the first time the cadaver is used (dissected), and ironically, it is very weak at delivering actual real-life scenarios of a human body to students. Virtual anatomy has been a promising solution that many are counting on. But even today, we have not found a complete solution that combines all the benefits of using human cadavers and those introduced by its technical counterparts. "Soul Anatomy" aims to do just that. It brings the best of all worlds, from a natural intuitive control system, life-like feel of organs, precise accuracy in moving and controlling bodily structures, to the smallest details of being able to show medical information overlays from various medical databases connected to the internet; thus making use of technology in teaching human anatomy by providing a modern learning experience.

Keywords: Anatomy, cadavers, medical education

How to cite this article:
Bambi M. Soul Anatomy: A virtual cadaver. J Health Spec 2014;2:75-7

How to cite this URL:
Bambi M. Soul Anatomy: A virtual cadaver. J Health Spec [serial online] 2014 [cited 2018 Jul 22];2:75-7. Available from: http://www.thejhs.org/text.asp?2014/2/2/75/131754

  Introduction Top

Healthcare professionals or medical students know how limited one is when it comes to learning from cadavers in "practical" human anatomy classes. Whatever ethical considerations may be considered, the conclusion most draw in the final analysis is that the use of cadavers is for the greater good. We have all been there. But technology has come a long way; it has never been an everyday thing to not be able to distinguish an actual human from that of a digitally drawn one.

According to Moore's Law, Computer chip performance is said to double every 18 months. In other words, we have computers that are twice as good now from what we had just eighteen months ago. This is amazing! But why aren't there similar advances in areas like medicine and education? One researcher argued that the medical sciences are behind that of technology fields by no less than 15 years. [1] So, if one simplistically reduces human achievement as being the product of utility and knowledge, these two become the foundation stones of all great human achievements. And, one cannot advance without the other. In other words, to build a knowledge base, as scientists, we need better utilities to do so, and to build those better utilities, we need knowledgeable scientists to do so as well.

Teaching and learning the knowledge of human anatomy with the cadaver for so long in time has been just because it was the most practical way to teach. However, teaching human anatomy with human cadavers is not considered anymore the most practical method today. It is ethically dubious, time consuming, limited and extremely demanding in logistics and preservation. Technology can, undoubtedly, contribute much to medical education. This was precisely the goal with Soul Anatomy, teaching human anatomy without violating the sacred human body. Soul Anatomy is an interactive, fully-controllable virtual cadaver that replaces the need for human cadavers in all of its uses [Figure 1]. It is also an ethical solution that not only preserves the sanctity of the human body, but also provides instructors and students with an unmatched, immersive experience into the miracle of the human body.
Figure 1: Soul Anatomy

Click here to view

Design and concept

Soul Anatomy is a table-sized device that has one control panel and one user screen, which is connected to a source that projects onto a much larger screen that can show all of the human body structures. All the controls interacting with the physical cadaver by the user or instructor, are captured by sensors and are simulated in real-time by the software and shown as a very realistic rendering of the human body on the larger screen using the projector [Figure 2]. Users can fully control every part and detail of the human structures with precision through the control system, without having to use a computer mouse or touch screens. This allows virtual organs to be held by the user's own hands and actually have their hands appear to be holding the human organs. Organs can be shown or hidden, or even allow deeper penetration into organs and other structures by opening them up, showing not only their function in action but demonstrating the associated pathology. Today other medical education resources are much easier to access over the internet, so Soul Anatomy is also connected to the internet; pulling overlays of latest articles, research and case studies from various medical databases that healthcare professionals use almost daily and demonstrate them on demand, whenever the instructor sees fit. Educational videos also create endless possibilities for teaching and open a wide array of different methods to teach human anatomy, all by one device.
Figure 2: Control panel (1), user screen (2), physical cadaver (3), sensors (4), projector (5)

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  Discussion Top

Institutions and medical schools will appreciate this technology that will significantly cut down the costs associated with human cadavers. Furthermore, it can confidently be said that shortages in cadavers are going to be a thing of the past with the introduction of such technology. Then there are those museums keen to entertain and teach their audience about the human body. But it may be unethical, even inhumane, to do so by having real human bodies for such a purpose. It is also recognised in medical education that cadavers have to be in the best, average human form and as close to that of an ideal body as possible. These are types of human bodies that can be donated to science to save other humans by ways of organ donation. The technology described may allow a greater rise in organ donation since it will cut down on cadaver use.

In researching the market by surveying 200 students (7% of all medical students in the country) from various geographical locations in Saudi Arabia, we found that there is a need in the market of medical education for a solution that corrects the limitations and shortcomings of human cadaver use. The coming generation of young doctors and other health professionals are especially keen to get their hands on new technologies and new ways of learning. Today there are discussions taking place about being able to completely eliminate theoretical didactic lecturing and boring PowerPoint presentations in favour of merging the practical and theoretical lectures using, for example, Soul Anatomy as the preferred teaching tool.

  Conclusion Top

This is an opportunity for medical education to utilise technology at its best. It is the opportunity for doctors and students to enjoy a learning experience that is interactive, immersive, and most of all, easily controllable and naturally intuitive.

Virtual anatomy such as Soul Anatomy can change medical education and bring it into the 21 st century. It is not a matter of whether medical education will change or not, it is a matter of when such a leap of change is going to occur in such a traditional science.

Soul Anatomy aims to save millions of human cadavers from being used for no great benefit. Furthermore, these cadavers are also hard to come by, difficult and costly to transport, preserve, and hire specialists for their care and use. If that is not enough, cadavers are probably of very limited educational value due to the limited rates of authenticity, controllability, and ease of use. Students also have limited time during scheduled practical time at the most 1-2 hours long with, again, very limited interaction with those cadavers to contribute any real benefit to their knowledge. It has also been found as a good way for surgeons to explain to their patients, and even show, how an operation will be and what the ultimate result will be upon a successful surgery. Finally, there is also a potential opportunity in the museum industry where real human cadavers have been, more than once, put on display in museums for spectators and visitors to watch. We see this as all kinds of unethical violations of human sanctity; while Soul Anatomy can provide an ethical solution for even such an industry.

  References Top

1.Seliger R. Healthcare IT tipping point? Health Manag Technol 2005;26:47-8.  Back to cited text no. 1


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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