DCCC Science Lab Adds Virtual Cadaver Table

Lance Ziesch
DCCC Media Specialist
Mary Scott (left), DCCC professor of biology, demonstrates the college’s new Anatomage virtual cadaver table during an anatomy and physiology lab on Tuesday, March 23.

Students in anatomy and physiology classes at Dodge City Community College now have the ability to study the human body on a new virtual cadaver table.

“The benefit to the college is that for less than the cost of building, furnishing, and maintaining a cadaver lab, we now have access to human cadavers,” said DCCC professor of biology Mary Scott.

Basically, the virtual cadaver table is a “giant computer” that allows students to view special computed tomography (CT) scans of the human body at various levels, she said.

“It allows you to virtually dissect from the skin to the bones,” she said. “It also allows you the ability to view four different cadavers.”

Scott said the new table helps her students, including beginning students, to more easily explore the human cadaver. After she first demonstrates the use of the table, students are then able to study anatomy independently during their labs.

“At the community college level, cadaver labs are limited and require an instructor to do the dissecting and leading,” she said. “Once students learn to interact with the touchscreen, they can explore the cadaver on their own.”

In addition, instructors are able to copy pictures from the table that they can incorporate into their lectures or PowerPoint presentations. As Scott gets more familiar with the table, she said she will also be requiring students to use it for quizzes.

Thus far, Scott said her students have been impressed with the virtual cadaver table, and they have likened it to a “giant Visible Body app.”

A Visible Body app is the internet-based teaching and learning platform application required for DCCC’s anatomy and physiology classes. Scott said several of her students quickly realized how easily their individual apps correlated with the new table.

“They were pleased with how using one helps with using the other,” she said.

Currently, the college owns one virtual cadaver table, and it is being used for the Anatomy and Physiology I and II labs, she said.

To prolong the life of the table, Scott said it is only plugged in during use, and strict startup and shutdown instructions are followed. Like other computers, the table’s software also can be updated periodically.

“As long as the table lasts, we should be able to use it,” she said. “The company started in 2004, and those first tables are still in use. Thus, I hope that our table will last just as long.”

The virtual cadaver table, which was installed on Nov. 20, 2020, was purchased from Anatomage Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., at a cost of nearly $85,000.

It was paid for with Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) funds, which are state-allocated relief funds for Kansas counties through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“The Anatomage table adds additional quality and current technologies to our anatomy and physiology classes,” said DCCC vice president of academic affairs Jane Holwerda. “As one of a very few colleges in our region to have one, DCCC is unique in providing a great interactive and accessible way to learn about the structures and functions of the human body in a virtual platform.”