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Ann Anat. 2008;190(1):16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2007.10.001. Epub 2008 Jan 18.

The dissection course - necessary and indispensable for teaching anatomy to medical students.

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Dr. Senckenbergische Anatomie, Institute for Anatomy II, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Anatomy is a major basic subject in medicine and related biomedical sciences. A central tool most universities use for teaching anatomy is the "dissection course", in which medical students learn the basic constructional principles of the human body by dissecting a cadaver. In recent years, the relevance and value of the dissection laboratory have been under discussion at different universities due to high costs and problems of shortness in time in some medical curricula. Indeed, during the last 10 years, several universities in the US and the UK have abandoned dissection and have moved from a cadaver-oriented to a cadaverless anatomy. This development results in a fundamental discussion on the role of the "dissection course" in the medical curriculum, ultimately raising the question as to whether we should continue teaching anatomy by dissection. This article presents nine arguments for the dissection course as a central tool for teaching macroscopic anatomy and is an attestment to the continuation of the use of cadaver material in anatomical laboratories within the auspices of scholastic and university order for the benefit of future physicians with due respect and honour guaranteed for every donor.

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