It’s been a while since I’ve written an entry about my experiences in the anatomy lab, so I’ll play some catchup.
My tank has been exploring the wonders of the gastrointestinal tract over the last few weeks. We’ve gone through the abdominal wall, taken a look at the surface anatomy of the liver, explored the stomach, and tracked the course of the small/large intestines. Along the way, we’ve also run into the vermiform appendix, extensive neurovasculature of the GI tract, and some reproductive structures (namely the uterus, ovaries, scrotum, and spermatic cord).
Going into medical school, I was aware of how complicated (yet elegant) the digestive system is from a textbook standpoint, but actually seeing these structures is something totally different. I imagined the small intestine to be a tube-like structure jumbled haphazardly between the large intestine. Though I was somewhat accurate, there’s so much more! You’ve got a huge “mesentery” which runs intimately with the intestines. Your enteric nervous system has just as many neurons as your entire spinal cord (~100 million) and can function independently of the central nervous system. Pretty neat stuff!
The further we get into the dissection, the more I realize how true the statement one of our professors made during the first week of school really is – “your cadaver is your best teacher.” Flipping through my USMLE prep book and anatomy atlas, I’ve come to the realization that so many of the finer details I’ve learned would not have been possible without my donor. She has spent countless hours teaching me about her most inner workings, and I’ve spent countless hours trying to retain everything. Now that’s teamwork for you. 🙂