The Superficial Face Dissection as an Example for Integrating Clinical Approaches, Authentic Learning, and Changing Perspectives in Anatomy Dissection

Sebastian Cotofana, Nirusha Lachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hands-on dissection-based learning of anatomy offers an unique and valued experience for medical students. Too often however, the inexperienced student's focus is to avoid damage to unfamiliar structures instead of understanding spatial relationships between structures. This results in unfortunate surrender of a critical learning experience. Additionally, approaches to dissection and anatomic exposure share little alignment to clinical approaches, making it less powerful in clinical applicability. The goal of this viewpoint commentary is based on the experience of the two authors and aims to demonstrate opportunity to introduce clinical approaches for dissection while incorporating relevant anatomical concepts in medical school curriculum that aligns with authentic healthcare practice. Using the dissections of the superficial face as a relevant and current topic of clinical interest, we point out that applying the currently performed dissection approach (medial-to-lateral) falls short of providing sufficient knowledge and understanding of the layered arrangement of facial structures. The lateral-to-medial approach, as performed in surgical face lifting procedures would offer a better understanding of the layers of the face and especially the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) accounting for the difficulties of facial dissections on embalmed cadavers. This commentary could offer a potential change in paradigm for students and course facilitators for how to maximize the knowledge transfer during facial dissections. It potentially opens a door to rethink dissection-based learning of anatomy toward techniques and approaches that are aligned to surgical access pathways and thus considered more clinically relevant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • cadaveric dissection
  • curriculum
  • facial layers
  • gross anatomy education
  • head and neck anatomy
  • medical education
  • superficial face

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology

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