Primal Pictures was set up in 1991 in order to develop accurate 3D representations of human anatomy.

One of their most successful products was Anatomy TV which offered unparalleled levels of accuracy when it was launched.

Primal Pictures have now developed their first anatomy app for the iPad using the same 3D technology which has proven so successful.

Their first app is Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries: Shoulder Joint. As the title suggests, this app focuses on the applied anatomy of the shoulder and helps users understand which muscles are involved in specific movements.

Accessing the content is straightforward as opening the app presents the user with a menu that has options related to certain movements and anatomy. Selecting a topic from the menu displays detailed text and images for that topic including helpful videos.

These videos are short and clearly highlight the relevant anatomical concept. They can either be played in their embedded box or alternatively in fullscreen.

Furthermore, a large portion of the screen is devoted to a large 3D model which can be manipulated. The model can be rotated using two fingers across the image or alternatively there are options to rotate the model frame by frame. There is pinch to zoom touch gestures to view close up images. The ability to tap on any part of the model to highlight and name the specified part is extremely useful and helpful when identifying specific anatomical locations.

This model is not as easy to manipulate as some of Primal Pictures’ competitors and I found tasks like changing the visible layers relatively complicated. Despite this, it was still very useful to have a 3D model which can be rotated around so that you can understand the anatomy.

Tapping on a particular muscle on the menu on the right would highlight the specific muscle. Changing the layers would alternate between the location of the muscle and the origin and insertion points. There were moments, though, where the model was not of a high resolution (see screenshot) and was not helpful.

The utility of the app is further improved by the addition of clinical correlations. Anatomy is consistently easier to learn and understand if students are aware of the relevant importance of each muscle etc.

The clinical correlation boxes are relatively basic but do offer a useful insight into shoulder injuries and their influence on certain types of movement.


One major omission is the lack of information related to the innervation of each muscle. The origins and insertions are accurately described; however, there is no information related to innervation or other major neurological structures such as the Brachial Plexus.

Furthermore, there is no information related to the vascular supply to the upper limb which can also have some important clinical anatomy features.


  • Free


  • Integrated high quality videos
  • 3D model generally of a high quality with numerous layers to show additional anatomical features
  • Ability to separate individual muscles


  • No information related to muscular innervation
  • No additional neurovascular anatomy covered e.g. Brachial Plexus
  • 3D model sometimes difficult to manipulate


  • Overall, Primal Pictures’ first attempt at an iPad app is an admirable effort with numerous positive features
  • The addition of certain features such as neurovascular anatomy and muscle innervation would help improve the utility of this app for medical professionals
  • Despite these shortcomings, this app still has substantial uses for medical students and physiotherapists looking to develop their understanding of upper limb and shoulder anatomy.

iTunes Link