A Review of Anatomy.tv, powered by Primal Pictures
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Karen S. Grigg, MLS
Health Sciences Library 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Primal Pictures’ Anatomy.tv is a virtual cadaver and anatomy product that contains interactive 3D computer-generated models of human anatomy online. Users can rotate the images and add and subtract layers. Anatomy.tv is one of many anatomy software packages that uses NLM’s Visible Human Project, which is a public-domain library of cross-sectional cryosection, CT, and MRI images obtained from one male and one female cadaver.

This product contains several segments:

3D Atlas of Human Anatomy consists of nine detailed models of different body regions. This is both a learning tool and a reference and image library. The entire body is covered in interactive 3D views, and these images link to multimedia content such as dissection slides, cross-section anatomy views, and video clips.

3D Real-Time Human Anatomy section contains advanced image manipulation tools allowing users to interact with detailed 3D anatomical structures. Users are able to create customized images they can label, save, and use in presentations.

3D Human Functional Anatomy is a dynamic interactive resource that uses 3D anatomy and muscle function animations. This resource contains an interactive library of common muscle movement and gross motor movement animations, anatomy videos. It is easy to see muscle function in common joint movements. The animations are linked to an interactive 3D model of musculoskeletal anatomy. This is a teaching, learning, and patient education tool.

3D Anatomy & Physiology is a self-guided multimedia learning resource to teach students mastery of anatomy and physiology. This section is essentially a textbook with interactive 3D models and multimedia. Quizzes and case studies are included, and these can be integrated into lesson plans. This module is intended mainly for undergraduates, and each section contains learning objectives and interactive exercises.

PALMS (Perceptual and Adaptive Learning Modules), a learning tool that uses pattern recognition and visual expertise to facilitate mastery of anatomy. New Anatomy Learning and Assessment Modules, based on PALMS, adapt to the individual learner.

The Imaging section contains specialist imaging series of interactively labeled sections of their 3D models, ultrasounds of lower and upper limbs, as well as CT and MRI of the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis.

Clinical Specialties include Audiology, Otolaryngology, Dentistry, Dental Hygiene, Real-time Dentistry, Speech Language Pathology, Head and Neck: Pediatric Comparisons, Head and Neck: Basic Neuroanatomy, Chiropractic, and Urology. This is a static category, as new specialties continue to be added.

Therapy – contains visual guides for acupuncture, massage and manual therapies, anatomy trains, and hand therapy.

While this product can be used on iPads and Android tablets, it cannot be used on a mobile phone, as the screen sizes on mobile phones are too small to display the rich graphics.

Best Features

The images are very easy to rotate, and the ability to add and remove layers, such as bones, veins, and nerves, makes it relatively straightforward to see the structure layer by layer. There is quite a lot of material for faculty, including 602 images, 181 animations, 174 case studies, 122 clinical conditions, and 961 quizzes. Further, the new 3D embed function can add dynamic, 3D content into online course materials.

For those involved with collections, the business model is advantageous to those who may have one-time money but do not want to be tied to a subscription, as they offer perpetual content, in addition to subscriptions. For full disclosure, University of North Carolina uses Anatomy.tv, and we often upgrade our content and add modules with one-time funds. There are also student adoption options for individual faculty who wish for their students to purchase one or more programs.

Improvements to Consider

Users who do not have an easy-to-consult description of the product can find it confusing to figure out what each segment contains and what to use. Discerning between labels of “3D Atlas,” “3D Real-Time,” “Functional Anatomy,” “Anatomy & Physiology,” and “Imaging” can be challenging. The “Anatomy & Physiology” section is primarily intended for undergraduate education, but that distinction is not readily apparent when browsing the product. Font sizes throughout the product can be small, and it may be difficult for some users to read the text.

Note: Primal Pictures is in the process of releasing a new interface, so by the time this review is published, there may be changes. The representatives at Primal Pictures do make virtual training available and record their sessions for those who cannot view in real time.

Editor’s note: An review update of Anatomy.tv is available here.

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