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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 310348, 5 pages
Review Article

Teaching Anatomy in the XXI Century: New Aspects and Pitfalls

1Department of Human, Social and Health Sciences, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Campus Folcara, Via S. Angelo, 03043 Cassino, Italy
2The School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia

Received 30 August 2013; Accepted 1 October 2013

Academic Editors: M. Akita, P. Georgiades, M. Klüppel, and M. Pretterklieber

Copyright © 2013 Veronica Papa and Mauro Vaccarezza. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Anatomy has historically been a cornerstone in medical education regardless of nation, racial background, or medical school system. By learning gross anatomy, medical students get a first “impression” about the structure of the human body which is the basis for understanding pathologic and clinical problems. Although the importance of teaching anatomy to both undergraduate and postgraduate students remains undisputed, there is currently a relevant debate concerning methods of anatomy teaching. In the past century, dissection and lectures were its sole pedagogy worldwide. Recently, the time allocated for anatomy teaching was dramatically reduced to such an extent that some suggest that it has fallen below an adequate standard. Traditional anatomy education based on topographical structural anatomy taught in lectures and gross dissection classes has been replaced by a multiple range of study modules, including problem-based learning, plastic models or computer-assisted learning, and curricula integration. “Does the anatomical theatre still have a place in medical education?” And “what is the problem with anatomic specimens?” We endeavor to answer both of these questions and to contribute to the debate on the current situation in undergraduate and graduate anatomy education.