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Anatomical Sciences Education


Gross anatomy laboratories frequently utilize dissection or prosection formats within medical curricula. Practical examination scores are consistent across the formats, yet these examinations assessed larger anatomical structures. In contrast, a single report noted improved scores when prosection was used in the hand and foot regions, areas that are more difficult to dissect. The incorporation of prosected donors within "Head and Neck" laboratories provided an opportunity to further characterize the impact of prosection in a structurally complex area. Retrospective analysis of 21 Head and Neck practical examination questions was completed to compare scores among cohorts that utilized dissection exclusively or incorporated prosection. Mean scores of practical examination questions were significantly higher in the prosection cohort (84.27% ± 12.69) as compared with the dissection cohort (75.59% ± 12.27) (p < 0.001). Of the 12 questions that performed better in the prosection cohort (88.42% ± 8.21), 10 items mapped to deeper anatomical regions. By comparison, eight of nine questions in the dissection cohort outperformed (88.44% ± 3.34) the prosection cohort (71.74% ± 18.11), and mapped to anatomically superficial regions. Despite the mean score increase with positional location of the questions, this effect was not statically significant across cohorts (p = 1.000), suggesting that structure accessibility in anatomically complex regions impacts performance. Student feedback cited structure preservation (71.5%) and time savings (55.8%) as advantages to prosection; however, dissection was the perceived superior and preferred laboratory format (88.6%). These data support combined prosection and dissection formats for improving student recognition of deeply positioned structures and maximizing student success.



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assessment, head and neck, practical examination scores, prosection