Why is Embryology Important?

How Do You Engage Medical Students?


Human embryology provides essential information for medical student’s training in becoming physicians. Understanding human embryology provides the students the knowledge on how the human body is organized and the consequences of both normal and abnormal development. However, for medical students, embryology can be a very difficult subject to comprehend, and the development of the heart is one of the most difficult processes to study in embryology.  Today, The embryonic development of the heart is more commonly visualized using 2-dimensinal illustrations. However, 2D illustrations cannot depict the many views and angles of the heart in a single illustration, this makes it difficult for students to understand. 

This research developed a 3D interactive program to best visually communicate the formation of the heart’s outflow tact in a concise and efficient manner. Data from the Virtual Human Embryo Project, a digital image database of serially sectioned human embryos from the Carnegie collection, was used to visualize and create 3D reconstructions of multiple embryonic stages. This learning tool allows the user to visualize and interact with the developing heart’s outflow tract in 3-dimensions as the embryo undergoes complex morphological changes during Carnegie Stages 13-23.   A learning and teaching tool for medical students studying embryology and anatomy to quickly and easily grasp how the heart’s outflow tract develops, thereby clarifying their relationships to structures seen in adult anatomy. 


Below, is a walk through the final learning tool and a supplementary animation explaining tetralogy of Fallot .