3D4Medical has developed an interesting series of musculoskeletal anatomy apps to help teach human anatomy. In this review, we are going to discuss the musculoskeletal apps in the 3D4Medical series. They currently have apps for the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, foot & ankle, and hand & wrist. These apps have been developed in collaboration with Stanford University School of Medicine. The information in this review applies to all of the musculoskeletal apps in the series, but the images will be from the Knee Pro III app.

User Interface

All of the apps, including Knee Pro III, are based around a similar design. This anatomy app opens to an image of the associated joint or limb. The first image demonstrates the surface or skin anatomy. The user can turn, zoom, and rotate the extremity for different views.

Scissors on the left side of the screen allow the user to make a swiping motion to “cut” the extremity into an axial or sagittal image at certain levels. A “hints” icon in the bottom right teaches the user the associated finger gestures to move between views. A nice feature allows the hints to be turned off after you are familiar with the finger movements.

Knee Pro III with Animations 4

The pull out menu on the right side of the app offers numerous additional features. The layering technology in Knee Pro III clearly illustrates the complexity of human anatomy. Similarly, the app can seem a little complex at first with the many different options and ways of presenting the information, but this becomes more clear with a little practice.

Knee Pro III with Animations 5

The user can move the extremity around in the given space and can “add” or “remove” tissue layers to see different structures. They can also mix layers to see the association between different layers such as the skin and bones or muscles and blood vessels. The “pen” is also a nice feature for teaching others or making notes that can be saved as a screen shot image.

The most important feature of Knee Pro III and the other apps in this series, from the standpoint of a student trying to learn anatomy, would be the “pin” feature. Once the user has selected an orientation that they like for the anatomic model on the screen, they can select the “pin” tool to highlight notable anatomic structures with a pin. Touching a pin brings up example pronunciations of the structure and more information on that structure. The user can also make notes on that selected body part pin.

The frustrating aspect of this feature is that if the user rotates or moves the image, even a little bit, all of the pins fall off and you have to open the right window again to reload the pins. The pins also connect to multimedia videos related to the anatomic structure selected which is a nice feature. The videos demonstrate pathology, procedures, and other functional aspects of the tissue. These videos can also be seen in the right pull out window. The videos are great quality, but do not use much sound–they rely mainly on text descriptions.

Knee Pro III with Animations 7

Finally, for an added challenge, the user can use the apps’ quiz function to test their knowledge of human anatomy. Many settings can be adjusted to tailor the quiz design. Sometimes, I found that it could be a little difficult to tell what the pin was pointing at until the app presented the ‘correct’ answer.

  • Price
    • $9.99 each
    • App interface is easy to use and navigate.
    • Great graphics and videos for a diverse range of conditions and procedures.
    • Excellent information and anatomic models.
  • Dislikes
    • Cost, the app is a little pricey compared to similar anatomy apps.
    • The multimedia would be enhanced with more audio to highlight the videos.
    • Reloading the pins after rotating the structure becomes annoying after awhile.
  • Overall

    This app series would be a great supplement to an anatomy course or to someone trying to learn more about human musculoskeletal anatomy. The pin and audio features could be enhanced.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Very easy app to use.

  • Multimedia Usage

    Great graphics, however, audio would enhance the numerous high quality videos.

  • Price

    The apps have some phenomenal content, however, the price is a little much per app.

  • Real World Applicability

    This app is unlikely to replace an anatomy curriculum and would more likely be used as a supplement for students, educators and medical professionals.

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 6S