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Introduction to the Online Guided Gross Anatomy Dissector

The Suárez Dissector is designed to compliment a lecture-based anatomy course at any level of study and provides dissection instructions to use as a guide while performing a human cadaveric dissection. Indeed, the Suárez Dissector was designed to view in the dissection laboratory. Students will soon learn how to interpret the dissection icons as specific dissection instructions and then compare their own dissections to the images in the Suárez Dissector. Students can quickly scroll ahead in the Suárez Dissector and see images of what to expect and to anticipate and plan how to perform their own dissections. Short dissection movies are also included in the Suárez Dissector and students are encouraged to view these prior to coming to the dissection laboratory. After the laboratory, the Suárez Dissector can serve as an ideal way to review the day’s work. The dissections are presented using a regional approach.


There are two types of objectives throughout the Suárez Dissector: Dissection Objectives and Identification Objectives.

The Dissection Objectives present instructions on what and how to dissect a particular body part. Tool icons are used to show the student what specific steps to perform on a region of the body. For example, a scalpel is used to cut tissue toward the person performing the dissection. In a Dissection Objective image, the tip of the dashed red line indicates the approximate location of where the cut should begin and the scalpel icon is placed where the incision should end. The movement performed during an incision, or reflection of a structure during an actual dissection, is represented using red arrows or red dashed lines on the images.

The Identification Objectives are meant to guide the student on what to identify in a specific image. In general, an Identification Objective page will precede and follow a Dissection Objectives page. On each page, the structures to be identified are kept to a minimum. If numerous identifications are required in the same image, the image is repeated on the subsequent page(s), with new labels.

Dissection and Identification Objectives are numbered on each page. To display the corresponding labels on the image, click the numbered text. Each page also has “Show All” and “Hide All” links, which will show or hide all of the labels on the image.


The following icons are used in the images:

The scalpel icon in combination with a red dashed line is used to indicate the approximate location where incisions should be made. Since the direction of an incision is generally done toward the person using the scalpel, the following scheme was used in the Suárez Dissector: the beginning of an incision is indicated by the tip of the red dashed line near the number and the completion of the cut is at the location of the scalpel in the image.


The scissor icon in combination with a red dashed line is used to indicate the scissor technique. In this technique sharp-sharp scissors are inserted into tissue planes that are then separated by the opening of the scissors—no cutting is done. Usually the investigator performs the scissor technique by holding the scissors in the dominant hand, and holding the forceps in the non-dominant hand to help the separation of the tissue planes. Since the scissor technique is generally performed in the direction away from the person doing the dissection, the location where the scissor technique should be started is represented by the opened scissor and the red dashed line indicates the direction to follow in separating tissue planes. The scissor technique is perhaps the most efficient way of performing dissections on cadavers.


The probe icon is used to indicate where blunt dissection should be performed. The direction of the blunt dissection is indicated by the tip of the probe. Many students use the probe to perform blunt dissection almost exclusively. Unfortunately, this is a highly inefficient way to perform a dissection and students are encouraged to mostly use scissor technique.


The forceps icon in combination with a red curved arrow is used to indicate the direction that tissue will be reflected or moved after one attachment point was cut.


The chisel icon is used to indicate where a particular bone should be cracked or a joint separated while performing a dissection. Generally the chisel is used in combination with a hammer, not unlike its customary use in a wood shop. It can also be used when the action of scraping muscle away from bone, or when leverage is needed to separate the bones of a joint, is required in a Dissection Objective page.


The saw icon in combination with a red dashed line is used to indicate where a bone needs to be sawed through. The direction of using a saw is generally away from the person performing the dissection. Hence, the saw icon is placed in the approximate area where the saw cut will begin and the red dashed line indicates where the cut will end.



From the home page, select the module or specific section you wish to study. Each module has a home page that lists all of the sections in that module. Click the section you wish to study.

Each section has a main page that lists the overall objectives for that section, along with thumbnail images of all the pages in that section. Click any thumbnail to jump to that page. Once you are on a particular page, you will see a row of thumbnails of the previous and next slides across the top of the page. Click any thumbnail to jump to that page, or slide the slider above the row of thumbnails to access additional pages. To advance to the next or previous pages, click the “Next” or “Previous” arrows at the bottom of the page.

The row of breadcrumb links at the top of the page show you where you are within the module at any time. For example:

Module 1: Back: Section 2: Dissection of the Back Muscles: Page 4

Click any of the links to jump back to that location.

Instruments and Techniques

The following video describes the tools and techniques used throughout the Dissector.

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