by Dr Maria Filippova, Anatomy demonstrator

Traditional anatomy education based on topographical structural anatomy taught in lectures and gross dissection classes in many medical universities has been replaced by a multiple range of study modules, including problem-based learning, plastic models or computer-assisted learning. As an anatomy demonstrator I’m very happy to have a unique opportunity to have the anatomical theatre at my disposal and to teach dissection anatomy to our medical students. Dissection allows the development of a three-dimensional mind map of the different anatomical regions of the body and the feel of body tissues i.e., tactile gnosis.

During the dissection, students are divided into groups. Each group is assigned to a cadaver and dissection table with instruments, protective respiratory mask, gloves, goggles and dissection manual .A supervision allows students to get into the dissecting process thereby increasing their depth of learning.

It’s important to remember that our cadavers were living persons at one time, and we want to show respect for their remains and recognise that the donation is one of the most important gifts they have ever given.

CS year student Kevin Willis states the benefits of dissection: 

As a medical student, it is hard to realise the purpose of each specific anatomical structure or landmark in a human body by only memorising from textbooks, slides, videos, or lectures. Thus, you miss the key point of anatomy & physiology. You miss how everything works and interacts with each other. As a future surgeon, textbooks do not give me the chance to know a structure using all of my senses as a surgeon should. Sure you can know what the structure is from its location, but when you dissect literally everything is mixed with everything. You have to know how things feel, look, or differ from other structures. Dissection also gives me the basic skills of separation and isolation for surgery. All of this leads to my last point, appreciation. As students, we always hear the word “appreciate” in terms of understanding the purpose of the subject in discussion. However, you really cannot appreciate anatomy & physiology without dissection. You might know arachnoid mater’s function is to create an area (subarachnoid space) and boundaries for CSF flow, but if you have never touched it or seen it you could not know what it really is. When I saw it delicately taut and rip with even the slightest pressure while dissecting the brain, then I knew the importance of appreciation. With dissection you get the opportunity to appreciate the simplistic complexity of the human body, and which in turn helps you relate anatomy to the clinical setting (or for us students, exams). With the impeccable patience and drive for teaching, all of the dissection staff gives me the greatest joy of being a successful medical student.


Another CS year student, Paul Leonardo D Angelo adds: The skilful and experienced demonstrators of the anatomy centre are very eager to help and support our medical studies, which allow us to have better visualizations of the anatomy concepts explored in the programme. Especially to those of us who are planning to follow surgery as a specialty, the time spent in the centre is of utmost importance.