3D photogrammetry models of human specimens: A useful resource for teaching and public engagement

Flora Gröning* (Corresponding Author), Laura Perez-Pachon, Sofia Aliotta, Caroline Collas, Anastassie Fertikova, Norman Koos, Ronja Struck, Neil Curtis, Rebecca Crozier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractpeer-review


Photogrammetry provides a cost-effective way to create photo-realistic 3D models of human specimens ranging from individual bones to large cadaveric body parts. This use of photogrammetry has experienced a recent surge in popularity and this trend is likely to continue with advances in hard- and software development and the unprecedented demand for online learning resources triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 3D photogrammetry models have shown the potential to enhance learning and to widen access to materials such as fragile museum specimens. Here we explore two aspects that are relevant for the creation of useful 3D learning resources with photogrammetry: the accuracy of photogrammetry models and the students' views on the usefulness of these resources for their learning. We have created photogrammetry models of diverse human specimens including dissected body parts of different sizes and shapes and bones from archaeological excavations. To assess the accuracy of photogrammetry models, we compared them with reference models obtained from micro-computed tomography scans. To evaluate the use of photogrammetry models as a learning resource, we handed out a Likert scale questionnaire to 100 undergraduate students of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The results showed that photogrammetry produced largely accurate models which allow the study even of small surface features. However, some protrusions and holes in the specimens caused local artefacts. The evaluation revealed that most students thought that 3D photogrammetry models help them to identify structures in real cadaveric specimens and they preferred these models to traditional learning resources. Taken together, these results are encouraging for the future creation of high-quality 3D learning resources with photogrammetry and support the potential of the technique to enhance learning and improve the student experience. We are grateful to the individuals who facilitated our work by their generous body donations. The work on donated human cadaveric specimens was approved by the Licensed Teachers of Anatomy at the University of Aberdeen. The use of archaeological human bone specimens adheres to the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology digital imaging code (2019).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-941
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number4
Early online date19 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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