Students participate in virtual human dissection

Some might consider them creepy, kooky or spooky, but human cadavers in classes at South Arkansas Community College are all together high-tech.

Students in Dr. Susanne Wache’s anatomy and physiology classes used special software this semester to dissect human cadavers virtually, which not only aided in required social distancing due to campus pandemic protocols, but also brought other benefits, Wache said.

“What is special now is that we can be more specific when it comes to servicing the health-science programs that focus on learning about human body structure, function and human diseases,” the instructor said, noting that while the dissection of small animals has been routine in SouthArk biology classes for many years, dissection of the human body was not possible until now.

“Having to keep human cadavers just is not practical in a small setting,” Wache said. “Having to distance also means that even medical schools no longer want to work a foot apart on human cadavers kept at 65 degrees. They prefer virtual dissection, or layer-by-layer MRI pics to learn the same identification tools that we used to learn by dissecting cadavers hands-on.”

High-resolution imaging has become so advanced that each layer of the body can be seen in great detail, and removed virtually, providing a close—and close-up—approximation of the real thing. Wache’s classes dissected the human heart, chest muscles, brain and eye.

“Working on virtual human cadavers was very interesting to me. This is a wonderful way for students who are taking A and P II and other health-science classes to familiarize themselves with the human body and all of its working parts,” student Madison Mashburn said. “I found it very helpful in learning how the body works, and learning where our organs are anatomically-located. This resulted in higher testing scores for me, as I was able to visualize what I had learned and seen while dissecting the virtual human cadavers.”

Student Heather Zimmerman said that she enjoyed the exercise “completely.”

“I was able to see the anatomy without having to suffer the smell,” she said.