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Book and Media Reviews
May 23/30, 2012

Pocket Body

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla (drapaport@ucsd.edu).

JAMA. 2012;307(20):2200-2202. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.5262

Anatomy is learned best in a laboratory, actively doing rather than listening to lectures or solving problem sets. Thus, it is also exclusive, the domain of students with access to dissecting rooms and donated cadavers. Over the course of recent decades, computers have been promoted as a solution for learners with limited access to anatomical material, from the student studying at home to the surgeon explaining to a patient the location of a diseased organ and how it might be repaired. However, for the most part these computer-based approaches have fallen short. Digital anatomical atlases have for the most part proved to be little more than electronic versions of books or images from books, presented page by page and seldom very interactive. Some medical schools have pursued moveable, 3-dimensional, interactive “virtual” cadavers, but these require processing power not available in the desktop or laptop computers of individual medical students or physicians. However, the era of the tablet computer is now here, offering renewed promise for the realistic representation of anatomical structures that learners can readily access and interact with. Pocket Body, an Apple iPad tablet application (app), attempts this.

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