UniServe*Science News, Vol. 5, November 1996

MedPics Image Library

Jenny Wilkinson is a Lecturer with the School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University.

About five minutes into using this package I was struck by how useful it would have been in some recent lectures I had given on the cardiovascular system. As I progressed through the rest of the CD all sorts of applications came to mind - the sign of a truly useful piece of software. This CD contains a series of images and text which cover the histology and pathology of each major organ system of the body. There are sections dealing with the cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems. A third domain on haematology is to be added in the future.

A title page with 3-4 learning objectives an a list of images provides a menu for each system. Navigation is very easy and is based on forward/back arrows or icons across the bottom of the screen. These display pictures of organs, or if you want go back to the 'big picture', or title page, a TV set.

Screens follow the same format with an image, title, pathological or histological descriptions of the specimen and an icon to allow labels to be displayed. One or more of these page features can be hidden when used for self-testing. For example the user could test their diagnostic skills by hiding the title and labels and using just the image to determine an appropriate title for the specimen. In full quiz mode only the image is shown. While it is not possible to permanently disable the titles and labels this is still a useful review feature. The images themselves range from microscope sections to photographs of gross anatomical specimens and line drawings. In general the quality is very good particularly in the photographs. My only criticism in this area was that some of the photomicrographs were unclear and of insufficient magnification to be of much use. All images were labelled with their main features, here there was a bit of inconsistency. Labelling varied from lines to arrows and circling of relevant areas - this was fairly clear but there seemed to be no consistent colour style. Sometimes lines were black other times yellow or red, not a major fault, just a bit distracting. Two things mar an otherwise excellent product. The first was the lack of scale bars on the photomicrographs and the other was the grey overlays used as labelling in a small number of images. These overlays totally obscured the image and would have been better replaced by the outlining of areas (this was the predominant way that large areas were indicated in images). The text accompanying the images was clear and concise. In the pathology section this text was made up of a pathology report followed by findings and impressions about the specimens. Descriptions of histological features accompanied the histology images.

Overall I was very impressed with this package and feel that it would be useful for any student studying histology and/or pathology and needing a overview of these areas. Being self-contained and so easy to use, this would be highly suitable as a stand-alone teaching tools. I can see this being a valuable addition to lab classes it could be used to supplement the 'live' material or to show items that are hard to obtain. This CD certainly wasn't what I had expected from the title - an image library. With objectives (simple, but useful), explanatory text, and labelling this is more a teaching package than a simple library of images.

Jenny Wilkinson

MedPics Series: Images Library for Medical Education - Histology and Pathology
Requirements: PC Windows: 386, 4MB RAM. Macintosh:
Cost: Histology $685 Pathology $685 both $1195
Supplier: MathStat Software, PO Box 786, Mulgrave, Vic 3170 email: info@mathstat.com.au

URL: www.mathstat.com.au/
Tel: (03) 9562 2766 Fax: (03) 9561 5524
See also http://visiblep.com/medpic.html