Virtual dissection making med students better at the real thing

Wearing 3-D glasses and brandishing styluses, students at a small medical school are dissecting holograms of virtual body systems in ways they can’t when using actual human cadavers.

The school is Touro University System’s osteopathic-medicine college in the Hudson Valley town of Middletown, N.Y. The technology is zSpace, the virtual-reality system designed and marketed by the company of the same name in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The combination caught the eye of news producers at

“Being able to kind of peel back the superficial muscles and looking into the deep muscles and understanding the origins is a very good kind of tool before actual dissection and cadavers in the lab,” Sean Orton, a medical student at Touro, told the outlet.

Kenneth Steier, MD, the school’s dean of osteopathic medicine, added that students using the high-tech modality to supplement their standard dissections are scoring better grades than previous classes and showing improved performance in the lab.

Fox reported that the osteopathic school welcomed its first class of 135 students in July 2014, following a $25 million renovation of an old community hospital.

zSpace has posted a video demonstration of the technology in action.