Students at Arizona Heart Institute Learn important Anatomy Lesson
Did you ever know that much of a pig’s anatomy is similar to human anatomy? This is one of the reasons that many science classrooms dissect fetal pigs. Students at the AZ Heart foundation recently participated in a dissection activity, and were able to dissect a pig heart.
The dissection activity is a part of the training for our ultrasound program. Learning anatomy and physiology is one of the basic building blocks for becoming an ultrasound sonographer. Students found that the opportunity to dissect the fetal pig helped them to better visualize and understand the anatomical structures they had been learning in the classroom.
There are several reasons that schools use fetal pigs to instruct students in anatomy:
- Pig anatomy and human anatomy are similar.
- Dissection is a hands-on way of learning anatomy. For many learners, this type of learning is better than textbook learning.
- Dissection allows students to see the body’s structures in three dimensions (unlike in a textbook) and how the organ systems are interconnected.
- Dissecting more than one fetal pig demonstrates variations within the animal body. No two fetal pigs (or any animal) will look exactly alike, and this helps students understand natural variations, and recognize anatomy even if it does not look exactly like the textbook.
- Fetal pigs are not bred for being dissected. They are the by-product of the pork industry and would be discarded if not used for dissection.
One of the human body organs that is very similar to a pig’s is the heart. A pig heart and a human heart are similar in their size, structure, and function. Like a human heart, the pig heart has two atriums and two ventricles. It also has four valves and an aorta. For this reason, pig hearts are sometimes used for dissection. In these activities, students are able to gain a greater understanding of the human heart through understanding a pig’s heart.