From our current point of view many things seem to be "old fashioned". Looking back from the year 2010 it feels strange that people were so excited about radio and television, as they are so "normal" nowadays. Still, only one lifetime away these things were not available. So what if we do not look back one century, but four? If we image ourselves in 1632, how would the world around us look like? No cars, no phones, no electric lights, no airplanes... how different would that be? How would medical doctors be trained in that time? Maybe not so differently after all....
In 1632 the Dutch painter Rembrandt
depicted the famous Anatomy Lesson
of dr. Nicolaes Tulp
. Although nowadays we have more decent ways of acquiring bodies for dissections, the habit is still present in medical training. Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a craniotomy course for Dutch neurosurgical residents. We performed several approaches on cadavers with surgical instruments and microscopes for further exploration. It has been some years since my last time on the dissection room, but it did not take long before I really enjoyed this type of training again. Some structures I have been seeing in anatomy books and even in surgeries, but that I could not depict very well in three dimensions.... well, now I can. As we need this 3D knowledge for whatever subspecialty we will do after our residency, I am sold. We need to see how we can continue this type of education at our institution, small scale and with regular frequency.
I admit to be tech-addicted, IT lover and a little fond of gadgets, but I have to confess: old school medical training still has an important place. With one difference: during our work, we were not painted. We were photographed.
(my thanks to the organisation of the course, our teachers -who were really helpful in bridging the gap between anatomy books and 3D reality- and the people who donated their body to science)
Maastricht University Medical Center