A comparative study of traditional and digital method in teaching surgical pathology to undergraduate medical students

Hemant K. Nautiyal, Priyank Pathak, Ruchira Nautiyal, Guruvansh Sachdev, Shubham Pandey


Background: During undergraduate medical course surgical pathology is taught on formalin preserved specimens (FPS), a traditional teaching method. These specimens are morphologically altered in color and size due to chemical effect of formalin. Author believe that surgical pathology and disease process can be better understood by digital pictures and videos of surgical procedures. Hence, author did this intervention study to compare the teaching of surgical pathology by traditional method (i.e. Formalin preserved specimen) with digital method.

Methods: This prospective study was conducted at Department of Surgery, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Himalayan University. Final year MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). Students (Four Batches, 20-25 students, n=91) were taught surgical pathology by digital method (per operative and resected specimen pictures/videos) and traditional method (Formalin preserved specimen). Four specimens were taught with cross over i.e. two specimens with help of digital method and two by traditional method. Before start of teaching pretest (Multiple choice Questions, MCQ) was taken and it was followed by post-test (MCQ) for each topic. All teaching was done by single associate professor of surgery. Response of students was assessed by Likert’s scale. Evaluation of the results was done by paired t-test.

Results: 94.3% students liked new method of teaching and 90.8% believed that new method leads to better understanding of the subject. In two specimens (Appendix and Gall Bladder) taught by digital method there was statistically significant increase in post test score as compared to FPS method. In specimens (carcinoma colon and breast carcinoma) there was also increase in the post test score though not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Digital method was found to be better method for understanding surgical pathology and clinical correlation and should be used to complement traditional method. 


Digital pictures, Digital teaching, Formalin preserved specimen, Preoperative videos, Surgical pathology, Traditional teaching

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