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Ultrasound Int Open. 2017 Sep;3(4):E156-E162. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-121983. Epub 2017 Dec 7.

Virtual Dissection by Ultrasound: Probe Handling in the First Year of Medical Education.

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Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Health Sciences, Milan, Italy.
Azienda Ospedaliera San Paolo, Radiology, Milan, Italy.
Azienda Ospedaliera San Paolo, Via A. di Rudinì, 8, 20142, Milan, Italy., Cardiology, Milan, Italy.
Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Milan, Italy.
Azienda Ospedaliera San Paolo Via A. di Rudinì, 8, 20142, Milan, Italy., Epatology, Milan, Italy.



The aim of the present study was to assess the educational plan of first-year students of medicine by analyzing their scores in ultrasound body scanning.


Since 2009, the San Paolo Medical School (Milan, Italy) has vertically integrated the study of anatomy with ultrasound-assisted virtual body dissection. Three modules were supplied: musculoskeletal system, heart and abdomen pelvis. 653 first-year students were trained. The students alternated as mutual model and operator. A skillfulness score was assigned to each student. The scores were consequently listed. Nonparametric exact multiple contrast tests were employed to determine relative group effects.


Statistical analysis showed that: no gender-related differences were found (0:49; p=0.769); peer learners performed less well than peer tutors (0.677; p=0); between modules, scores in the musculoskeletal system (pMS=0.726) tend to be higher (p<0.001) than those obtained in the heart and abdomen pelvis (pH=0.398; pAP=0.375 p=0.270); significant differences were found compared to the beginning of the project's academic year.


The students considered this didactic course an engaging and exciting approach. Acceptance of peer teaching was extraordinarily high. Autonomous exercitation allowed the students to improve self-criticism and enhance their own skills. The level of expertise obtained by peer tutors and by peer learners can be considered satisfactory. The main objective of training future physicians on personal stethoechoscope with the necessary competence seems to have been successfully started.


curriculum development; interdisciplinary medical education; living anatomy; peer tutor; ultrasound

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