The Anatomage Table: Edinburgh’s virtual cadaver

The University of Edinburgh’s virtual cadaver – one of the first of its kind in the UK – will be used this year in teaching.

The Anatomage Table allows medical and anatomy students to investigate the human body by virtually dissecting it.

The table, which shows life-sized male and female bodies, has been created from CT scans allowing the body to be seen from front to back, side to side and upside down.

The new teaching tool will allow the body and the relationship of structures within it to be visualised in great detail.

Unlike the dissection of a real cadaver, in which body parts can only be removed, students can add or remove organs, veins, arteries, nerves or tissue by touching the table thereby enabling them to see how one part relates to another.

3D anatomical hologram

The new device joins another novel teaching tool at the University’s Medical School – a life-sized 3D anatomical hologram, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

The 3D image of a female body is made of three synthetic layers and when viewed from various angles, shows muscle structures, skeleton, internal organs, blood vessels and nerves.

In addition to the preinstalled CT and MRI scans, researchers say that it is possible to import personalised scans to the device, which can then be recreated into virtual cadavers and used in a teaching package designed for a specific purpose.

The beauty of the Anatomage Table is that you can rotate and view the body in all three planes in a unique 3D experience. Although it will never, I believe, replace the experience of dissecting and handling a real cadaver, it will allow students to handle a virtual cadaver without all the legislation that accompanies the use of real cadavers. So far we have received a lot of good feedback from the students and surgeons who have tested it out.” said Professor Gordon Findlater, Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences

The Anatomage Table will be introduced into formal teaching sessions where appropriate and will also be available for the public to see and use, under supervision, when the museum is open to the public.