Virtual Dissection Table Makes Advanced Anatomy Practice Accessible to K-12 Students

Virtual cadavers displayed on a high-tech table will help high school students get dissection experience without a human cadaver — and younger students will get their chance to use it later on.

by Denise Smith Amos, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL / March 28, 2017 0

(TNS) -- Bolles Upper School teachers are trying to liven up their biology and anatomy classes by including more dead bodies.

Well, not actual dead bodies.

They’ll use virtual cadavers, thanks to a new $78,000 electronic table more commonly seen in hospitals and medical schools.

Called an Anatomage table, the high-tech gadget is the size of an operating room table but it acts like a massive computer with a touch screen.

With a touch of a button, anatomy students can slice and dice without the mess, smell, cost or shock of an actual human dissection.

Bolles’ aspiring doctors or scientists can get a leg up on their competition without getting their hands dirty.

School officials say the table will help students better visualize the human body and how its various systems work since the bodies can be virtually peeled down to their bones, veins, muscles and organs.

Anatomy teacher Piper Moyer-Shad said students will gain accurate insights into fully segmented bodies.

“It’s a virtual dissection table based on human cadavers, which students wouldn’t normally see,” she said. “Usually they are looking at 3-D renderings or computer generated images …. (It will) help them visualize how the body’s component parts fit and work together.”

Until now, the only other Anatomage table in the Jacksonville area was at the Mayo Clinic’s Weaver Simulation Center, which Bolles Upper School students and teachers have visited on occasion.

Mayo officials described last May how a surgical team used the table to plan a tricky surgery to remove a golf-ball-sized tumor from the base of a man’s skull. (The Facebook video is at https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/simulation-center-3d-images-aid-surgical-planning/).

Bolles’ table is scheduled for delivery to a physics lab in Schultz Hall later this month or early April.

The first students to use it likely will be Upper School students taking anatomy, AP biology and biology, said Susanna Barton, school spokeswoman.

Eventually lower and middle school science students will join in the fun. Later Bolles will make the table available to its feeder schools, partner schools and other medical-based magnet schools, she said.

Bolles is considering giving local health-care professionals access to it over the summer.

Nancy Hazzard, chairwoman of Bolles’ science department, said she hopes teachers embrace this as a chance to get students engaged and apply science to their lives.

“They’ll be able to visualize features of the anatomical aspects of the body, see selected abnormalities in the body and learn how these unique perspectives can enrich their classes,” she said.

Some Anatomage tables can project actual X-rays, MRIs and CT scans. Some can project those images onto wall displays and some tables can swivel to stand as upright displays.

The tables can be pricey, with costs ranging from $38,000 to $100,000. Most are in hospitals and medical schools, though the company lists two other private schools with the technology — a Catholic school in Steubenville, Ohio, and a private school in San Jose, Calif.

Bolles could afford it by using one-time, restricted funds; the purchase won’t affect the school’s operating budget, Barton said.

Bolles is a co-ed, college preparatory day and boarding school with four campuses, including 760 Upper School students. Next year’s tuition is $24,940 for day students.

©2017 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.