Computer-Based Dissection Manual (CBDM) of the Thorax

Publication ID Published Volume
9194 July 13, 2012 8


This resource is an online Computer-Based Dissection Manual (CBDM) of the Thorax directed toward first year medical, dental or other students taking human gross anatomy courses with a dissection laboratory component. The CBDM provides a resource to guide students through the requisite steps of each dissection module, and serves as a powerful tool for independent study and review. The purpose of the CBDM is to increase the efficiency of dissection in the gross anatomy laboratory, improve dissection techniques, and stimulate active, self-directed learning. The material includes labeled digital images from the dissection of the thoracic wall and thoracic cavity, along with written dissection instructions. It is divided into four sections: Thoracic Wall and Lungs, Heart- External Anatomy, Heart- Internal Anatomy, and Mediastinum. Each section contains multiple steps required to complete the dissection module. The program is menu-driven, allows for viewing of the entire content in sequence, or, selected sections or steps in any order. The CBDM of the Thorax is intended as an anatomy laboratory visual guide, which might be used by medical, dental or graduate anatomy students as a supplement to a commercial detailed dissection manual, or may serve as a standalone online laboratory for undergraduate anatomy students.

Three modules of the Computer-Based Dissection Manual (CBDM) are currently in use within the first-year medical gross anatomy course (Human Structure) at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University. All three modules serve as recommended supplement dissection resource to the required Gray’s Dissection Guide. The CBDM Back and Upper Extremity modules were introduced in 2009. The CBDM Thorax module was incorporated in the fall of 2010 and was evaluated through an on-line survey by all 105 medical students (48 females & 57 males) enrolled in the course. Most students (90) reported having no prior dissection experience. The vast majority of students (102) decided to use this new tool, even though it was not required. It was used by 87% of students who had never done dissection before and by 87% of students who had previous dissection experience. Among all CBDM users, 97% found it very or somewhat useful. Seventy five percent declared that they used the CBDM to prepare for the lab practical exam. All students concluded that the CBDM was a very helpful, user-friendly resource, and suggested the development of additional interactive activities to the CBDM. Faculty noticed a speed up of the dissection process, increased efficiency of dissection and improved dissection technique.

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Kraszpulska B, Ritterhoff K, Gainor R. Computer-based dissection manual (CBDM) of the thorax. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2012;8:9194.

Educational Objectives

  1. To understand the approach to the thorax dissection.
  2. To learn the basic anatomy of the thoracic wall, thoracic cavity, and thoracic organs.
  3. To determine three-dimensional relationships of thoracic cavity organs.
  4. To review dissected structures after each session.
  5. To provide unlimited access to the “prosection” material outside of the anatomy lab.


  • Dissection, Cadaver, Thoracic Wall, Thoracic Cavity, Lung, Heart, Mediastinum, Thorax


  1. B. Kraszpulska, R. Gainor: Evaluation by medical students of a new computer-based dissection manual. FASEB J. April 2010, 24 (Meeting Abstract Supplement) 825.8
  2. Kraszpulska B, Ritterhoff K, Gainor R. Computer-Based Dissection Manual (CBDM) of the Upper Extremity. MedEdPORTAL; 2012. Available from:

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ISSN 2374-8265