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N Z Med J. 2012 Sep 7;125(1361):37-45.

Using real-time ultrasound to teach living anatomy: an alternative model for large classes.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Otago School of Medical Sciences, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand.



Ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive and versatile imaging modality used widely in clinical practice. Several studies have reported using ultrasound imaging to supplement teaching of clinical anatomy to medical students but most have attempted to teach basic ultrasound skills in addition to normal sonographic anatomy. These small group teaching sessions are labour intensive and need appropriate resourcing of equipment and personnel. We report experience of an alternative approach suitable for large classes with more limited resources.


A single 1-hour ultrasound demonstration of 'living anatomy' of the abdomen, pelvis and neck was conducted using a young female model as the subject. Scans were performed by an experienced sonographer with images projected on to a large lecture theatre screen; medical student interaction was encouraged by two clinical anatomists.


Anonymous evaluation of 152 returned questionnaires (greater than and equal to 63% response rate) showed that more than 80% of respondents considered the session had stimulated and improved their understanding of anatomy.


Whilst this method of teaching anatomy using ultrasound does not offer hands-on experience, it does provide students with an introduction to the clinical utility of ultrasound and, by focusing on anatomic findings rather than the acquisition of technical imaging skills, reinforces the learning of clinical anatomy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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