on the table

Picture taken by me in my house . No rights reserved.

Before I left Oxford I was given an unusual gift of some skeleton tableware. Due to a clerical error only 5 plates rather than 6 arrived.  Amusing questions to the supplier followed: Had they put the right leg in, or was the right leg left out?  In, out, in, out, that is what it was all about.

This week I  was intrigued to try out the Anatomage table in Edinburgh University’s Dept of Anatomy. It’s the only one of its kind in Scotland and I think , one of only two in Britain. It’s a technologically advanced anatomy visualization system for anatomy education, it works with big data sets from CT scans and is used a bit like a big, table-sized i-pad. An i-bed perhaps.

It cost an arm and a leg,  you use your finger to slice through bones and skin.

The anatomage table is table-like presumably to help human practitioners cope with the transition from the physical ( one dead body lying down) to the virtual ( multiple bodies spinning around). It was interesting that the discussion amongst my  academic and learning spaces technology colleagues in the group quickly moved to  the ways in which we could release/move the image from the table on to a standing screen, projector screen or interactive whiteboard.

Dissected virtual cadavers* are going to be a bit spooky at the best of times. The fact that these are located in the famous medical school skull room makes it even more stark. A contrast of shiny new cutting-edge  virtual digital cutting technology in amongst some of the University’s earliest teaching objects.

The colleagues who generously showed us around are looking forward to new software updates and new body scans. As we stood, a small group around the table we did note however, that while the current male cadaver was wearing a modesty loin cloth, the female cadaver was afforded no such covering.


* is it still a cadaver if it is virtual? perhaps it is just a virtual body. Once it is digital the ‘dead’ aspect seems less relevant given we are training doctors who will operate on mostly alive people.

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