Document Type


Publication Title

The FASEB Journal



Kansas City University has historically used student-led dissections for anatomy education in the first year medical curriculum. In academic year (AY) 2019-20, prosected cadaver specimens were incorporated in the ‘head and neck’ component of the Neuroendocrine (NE) course. Literature addressing the use of prosected cadavers yields identical student outcomes when assessing larger structures like the extremities as compared to student-led dissections, however, a single report indicates that in areas with exceedingly small and/or complex dissections, such as the foot, using prosected specimens improves student outcomes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of prosected specimens on student performance on laboratory practical exams specific to head and neck content.


In AY2019-20, prosected cadavers were prepared by members of the Anatomy department prior to the start of the NE course. The number of anatomy lab sessions and structure list remained identical between the AY2018-19 and AY2019-20 cohorts. A 50-point laboratory practical exam was administered to each cohort and common assessment items (n=21) were included. Retrospective data sets were obtained for student-led dissection outcomes (SDO, n=278) from AY2018-19, and prosected specimen outcomes (PSO, n=280) from AY19-20. Common assessment items among the two cohorts were tabulated and bimodal statistics were applied including the Mann-Whitney U test, using SPSS.


Student outcomes of mean scores on all common tags was greater in the PSO cohort (0.83 +/- 0.005) as compared to SDO performance (0.760 +/- 0.005) (P


We completed a retrospective, region-specific analysis of assessment outcomes in head and neck laboratory practical exams. Students performed better within the PSO cohort overall, as well as on ten items specific to deep anatomical structures. This study demonstrates the impact of using prosected specimens in teaching head and neck anatomy.


Structures of the head and neck are very delicate and pose a perceived barrier to student success. Using prosected specimens resulted in increased exam performance overall, as well as on assessment items specific to more deeply positioned structures. In contrast, outcomes of student-dissected assessment items were increased when evaluating superficial structures. The improved performance of practical assessment items specific to prosected and deep, versus dissected and superficial, suggests that structure accessibility impacts student outcomes. This indicates that students are better able to use prosection to more successfully locate, identify, and assess deeply positioned structures.



Publication Date



medical education, gross anatomy education, laboratory, dissection