Anatomy training for surgeons: Which way for the future?

Author Information

J.A. Ogeng’o, BSc, MBChB, PhD, Department of Human Anatomy, University of Nairobi.

Corresponding author:

Prof. J.A. Ogeng’o, P.O. Box 30197-00100 Nairobi, Kenya


Sound knowledge of human anatomy is critical for safe medical practice.  Worldwide, reduction in time allocated for its teaching has invoked debate on the extent, mode and timing of instruction, and opinion is divided on the value of dissection vis-à-vis other methods of delivery. In Africa, including Kenya, dissection integrated with microscopic, developmental and neuro-anatomy has remained core practice, even in the few schools which adopted problem based learning. This relatively conservative stance is beginning to be questioned by faculty and students.  The objective of this review is to evaluate the role and method of teaching anatomy in medical training in general and surgical in particular.  Several papers on teaching of anatomy in medical schools from different parts of the world have been analysed.

The consensus is that teaching of anatomy to undergraduate medical students should be rationalized, horizontally and vertically integrated with other medical subjects and taught using a variety of techniques.  Dissection should still be central to the teaching of anatomy and especially for those pursuing surgical careers.  Combined efforts between departments of anatomy, surgery, and imaging should therefore be channeled through intensified training of surgeons in human anatomy, so that they can form pillars of teaching anatomy in the continuum of medical training. One such model is intercalating a comprehensive MSc Anatomy course within the MMed, or MD surgery programme.


The Annals of African Surgery is the official publication of the Surgical Society of Kenya.


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ISSN (print): 1999-9674; ISSN (online): 2523-0816

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