European Radiology

, Volume 28, Issue 7, pp 2838–2844 | Cite as

Contrast-enhanced cadaver-specific computed tomography in gross anatomy teaching

  • Daniel PaechEmail author
  • Kerstin Klopries
  • Sara Doll
  • Ralph Nawrotzki
  • Heinz-Peter Schlemmer
  • Frederik L. Giesel
  • Thomas Kuner
Radiological Education



To establish contrast-enhanced (CE) cadaver-specific post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) in first-year gross anatomy teaching and quantitatively evaluate its learning benefit.


132 first-year medical students were included in this IRB-approved study and randomly assigned to an intervention group (n=59) provided with continuous access to CE and non-enhanced (NE) cadaver-specific PMCT-scans during the first-semester gross anatomy course, and a control group (n=73) that had only NE cadaver-specific PMCT data available. Four multiple-choice tests were carried out (15 questions each) subsequent to completion of the corresponding anatomy module: Head and neck anatomy, extremities, thorax, and abdomen. Median test results were compared in each module between the groups using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test. Additionally, participants of the intervention group answered a 15-item feedback-questionnaire.


The intervention group achieved significantly higher test scores in head and neck anatomy (median=12.0, IQR=10.0–13.0) versus the control group (median=10.5, IQR=9.0–12.0) (p<0.01). There were no significant differences in the comparison of other modules. CEPMCT was highly appreciated by undergraduate medical students.


The incorporation of contrast-enhanced cadaver-specific PMCT-scans in gross anatomy teaching was proven to be feasible in the framework of the medical curriculum and significantly improved the students’ learning performance in head and neck anatomy.

Key Points

• Cadaver-specific contrast-enhanced post-mortem CT (CEPMCT) is feasible in the medical curriculum.

• CEPMCT yields significantly improved learning performance in head and neck anatomy (p<0.01).

• CEPMCT is highly appreciated by medical students and used in tutor- or self-guided modes.


Medical education Computed tomography angiography Anatomy Anatomy, cross-sectional Post-mortem examination 





Contrast-Enhanced Post-mortem Computed Tomography


Control Group


Computed Tomography


Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine


Intervention Group


Institutional Review Board


Interquartile Range


Multiple Choice


Magnetic Resonance Imaging




Non-Enhanced Post-Mortem Computed Tomography


Overall Agreement


Post-Mortem Computed Tomography


Opaque Shaded Surface Display



This study has not received external funding. Costs were covered by our institution (Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Heidelberg).

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Dr. Daniel Paech.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

Prof. Dr. Annette Kopp-Schneider (Division of Biostatistics, German Cancer Research Centre) kindly provided statistical advice for this manuscript.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects in this study.


• prospective

• randomised controlled trial

• performed at one institution


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyGerman Cancer Research CenterHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Anatomy and Cell BiologyHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Department of Nuclear MedicineUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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