A Slice of Life
Cross section of human body on the web
From his more than 43 years of teaching, Emeritus Professor Ronald Bergman understands just how much anatomic information must be mastered by students before they begin their practice of medicine. And, when you consider the thousands of named parts and regions in the human body, its no surprise that practicing physiciansand even retired anatomy professorshave to look up a thing or two now and then.
Bergman and a team of colleagues have made that search easier and nearly
universal by publishing a complete cross section of the human body on
the web. Their electronic anatomy textbook can be found on the Virtual
Hospital web site at www.vh.org/Providers/Textbooks/Human
Bergmans team prepared donated bodies by freezing them solid and sawing them into thin 1-cm slices, starting with slices across the top of the head and working down through the trunk and limbs all the way to the feet. Each cross section was photographed and meticulously labeled to show the relationships of various tissues and organs in a view that resembles the perspectives possible in certain radiologic procedures, such as CT scans and MRIs.
Lessons from Leonardo
Bergmans teamwhich included Adel K. Afifi, professor of pediatrics, neurology, and anatomy; Jean Y. Jew, professor of anatomy and cell biology; and Paul C. Reimann, medical photographeroriginally published its work as a book about 10 years ago, but the publisher abandoned the project after a limited first edition.
"A lot of people would call me and ask about the text and where they could get a copy," Bergman says. "When I saw the kinds of medical texts being published on the Virtual Hospital site, I knew this would be an ideal thing to do. In the first three months it was on-line, the text averaged just under 40,000 hits a month. Thats a lot of interest, and people are continuing to discover that its there."
"Something that Dr. Bergman impressed on me as a resident," DAlessandro says, "is that there is no normal in anatomy. Each of us is different. He contends that doctors should be taught the spectrum of anatomic variation, and his encyclopedia of those variationsorganized by organ systemis truly one of a kind on the web.
"As physicians and scholars, whatever we publish is our legacy, and whomever we teach and care for are also part of that legacy," DAlessandro says. "When you take resources like these and turn them into a tool that provides physicians with high-quality information just a click or two away, the number of people you can influence increases immensely."
by Greg Johnson