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Online anatomy resources for the surgical trainees

Online anatomy resources


Becoming a good surgeon relies upon many and diverse skills. Being able to establish a therapeutic relationship, take a thorough history, integrate examination and diagnostic test findings, knowing what can and cannot be achieved with a scalpel, the potential risks of surgery, and being able to articulate all of this in a bespoke, patient-centred and a collaborative way is no easy task. And that comes before one even enters the operating theatre.  

Once the decision to proceed to surgery has been made, however, the skillset changes somewhat. Surgical skills are paramount, as is an in-depth surgical anatomical knowledge. Current trainees and surgeons are fortunate, therefore, to have access to a remarkable array of digital anatomical resources. Here, we briefly describe a selection of free resources.

Henry Gray’s anatomy was first published in 1848 but it remains an evergreen resource. It can be accessed online in digital form here. The historic illustrations remain hugely instructive.

Radiopedia.org is a rapidly growing online radiologist-built educational resource. It is becoming ever more comprehensive and provides excellent pathology-specific cases that allow correlation with the relevant imaging findings. They are committed to keeping it free which means a few (tolerable) in-built adverts.  

For the neurosurgeons out there, The Neurosurgical Atlas is a must-know online resource. This comprehensive resource will serve you well from student right through to seasoned consultant. Resources include 3D rendered, manipulatable anatomical models, detailed surgical approaches, and a huge library of talks/webinars covering the full breadth of neurosurgery.

For members of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, a number of online learning resources are available. Among them is online access to Acland anatomy. This comprehensive platform includes narrated videos describing real anatomical specimens, high quality rendered dissection specimens, and the capacity to build complex anatomical structures in digital form.  

Touch Surgery began by developing visual representations of surgical procedures, though they have since broadened their outlook. They continue to provide a free app (for smartphone and tablet) which includes stepwise, procedural simulations of operations. All sub-specialties are catered for and the anatomical rendering is high quality.   

These are just a few of the myriad online resources available, which will surely expand as technology advances.


Mark Hughes

Consultant Neurosurgeon and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh

Director, eoSurgical


Email: mark.hughes@eosurgical.com

Twitter: @eosurgical



Cover Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash