University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Using digital innovation to support anatomy and surgical education during the pandemic

posted on 2023-06-10, 03:54 authored by Aiden Jayanth, Danya Stone, Jagtar Dhanda, Claire Smith
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental impact on healthcare education. With restricted access to traditional teaching aids such as the cadaver, educators had to adapt their teaching practise to minimise disruptions to students' educational process. However, cadaveric dissection is highly regarded as a key component of anatomical and surgical education. This was particularly challenging when teaching was purely online due to pandemic restrictions. To accommodate the shift to online delivery only, the Anatomy Department at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) adopted a variety of synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods. As part of this strategy, the department extended its provision of anatomy teaching by live streaming cadaver dissections to first year medical students (n=220). BSMS was the first UK medical school to use this innovative digital tool. A Virtual Reality in Medicine and Surgery (VRiMS) course was also developed to provide training to surgeons worldwide. This work explores the place of cadaver-based education in a true blended learning provision. Cadaver dissections were live streamed from the dissection room using operating theatre lights and a 4K camera via Microsoft Teams. These sessions were also interactive in nature, allowing students to ask questions throughout the dissection. Student feedback was collected through module and end of year evaluations. The VRiMS course provided a platform to demonstrate surgical procedures on cadavers using live streaming with virtual reality or 360 cameras. Surgeons were able to choose multiple camera angle perspectives through virtual reality headsets. Course participation data was used to determine the useability of this novel method of teaching and training. Module evaluation showed that the overall quality of delivery for anatomy practical sessions was rated as good and very good by 86% of the cohort. Moreover, 93% of students found the material to be just right. In the end of year evaluation, students have indicated that live streamed dissection sessions were one of their favourite aspects and has had a positive impact on their time at BSMS. In total, 1354 participants from around the world have watched 923 hours of live broadcasted content across four VRiMS courses to date. The course has seen a 52% increase in participation rate since its launch. The evaluation findings suggest that a hybrid learning approach with the use of live streaming for anatomical education has had a positive outcome on student satisfaction. Furthermore, VRiMS course participation data indicates that virtual reality has a promising future in surgical training. Live streaming and virtual reality have proved successful in bringing the dissection room to medical students and surgical trainees during unprecedented circumstances. This approach has the potential to prevent the complete loss of interactive cadaver-based education and a probable solution to cadaver scarcity.


Publication status

  • Published


The FASEB Journal




Federation of American Society of Experimental Biology





Event name

Experimental Biology meeting

Event type


Department affiliated with

  • Division of Medical Education Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected