The majority of undergraduate anatomy learning has shifted online, or to a mixture of virtual and face-to-face teaching, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cadaveric shortages have also influenced the need for alternative methods of anatomical education. This study examines the current literature on the use of extended reality technologies (XR) such as Virtual reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR), and Mixed reality (MR) for anatomy teaching and explores its potential for implementation in medical education.
A literature review was performed of PubMed, ProQuest, Science Direct, and Springer databases. Included studies were assessed for user satisfaction, perceived effectiveness, cost, acceptability and side effects.
The database search identified 1687 papers, of which 45 papers were included in this review. Both AR and VR had high rates of satisfaction and acceptability as a supplementary teaching aid amongst undergraduate participants. AR was found to have higher effectiveness than VR. VR is more expensive than AR. Results and comparisons were limited due to short length of study.
VR is a popular choice with undergraduates as an aid to supplement teaching, in spite of the associated cost and side effects such as nausea. AR has shown the most potential for independent study. Larger and long-term studies are required to determine true effectiveness, and consideration of the clinical relevance of these technologies.