Have you always wanted to be a surgeon, but were too squeamish about the idea of operating on someone? Well, there may be an answer. Straight out of Scotland comes the “virtual cadaver.” Rather than dissect a real human body, medical students can operate on a virtual one. Problem solved!
We are, of course, kidding when we imply that the “virtual cadaver” will replace real cadavers. Surgeons can’t be squeamish. They can be in the beginning of their education, but that’s why the use of real human cadavers is key. At first, slicing into a cadaver can be icky even for the most determined surgery student. But continue to operate on cadavers more and more, over and over, and it becomes almost boring in a way. What was once unsettling—cutting open a human—becomes second nature.
But back to the “virtual cadaver.” So it will never replace using real human cadavers, yet that doesn’t mean it’s without use. On the contrary, it will enable students to handle a virtual cadaver without all the legislation that accompanies the use of real cadavers. The “virtual cadaver” is incredibly detailed, fully electronic program that functions through a touch screen table called the Anatomage Table.
The table displays life-sized male and female bodies created from CT scans. The table allows students to see the cadaver from front to back, side to side and upside down. Another interesting aspect of the “virtual cadaver” is that you can remove AND add organs to the body—unlike a real cadaver—enabling you to see how one part relates to another.
As stated previously, there’s no way this technology will replace real cadaver dissection. There is a vast gulf between operating on a virtual body and a real body, even if it’s a dead body. As an educational tool, however, the University of Edinburgh’s “virtual cadaver” is certain to make a positive impact.