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Students At Long Island High School Take 3-D Look Into Human Body Using Virtual Cadaver Table

SOUTH HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Some medical students on Long Island are getting a 3-D look into the human body thanks to cutting edge technology.

Saint Anthony's High School in South Huntington, New York is the first school in the state to use a virtual cadaver table. There are only 16 in operation across the country.

Medical students there stood in awe of the 3-D images, or "anatomage," the $80,000 table projects with precise detail. The narrow machine is about the length of a pool table.

"You can see actually the brain developing," anatomy teacher Dr. Mark Capodanno said.

Capodanno said the computerized table is the centerpiece of the school's new medical laboratory, replacing what had been taught on a blackboard.

"What they're able to see in a two dimensional screen in the classroom all of a sudden becomes a virtual human cadaver that they can see in three dimensions, which is critical for integrating the body systems and how they work in teaching physiology," he said.

The students, who all hope to become doctors, said the unit's intricate detail allows them to actually imagine themselves performing surgery.

Junior Rachel Fine, 16, wants to be a neurosurgeon.

"I'm actually really intrigued how it can go into depth with even all the lymphatic systems and the nervous systems," she said. "It will show every single nerve."

Students from a generation used to devices powered by touch still marveled at their ability to penetrate the skin down through the organs and bones.

"I'm thinking of being a cardiothoracic surgeon, so I'm looking on the heart and lungs, and for me to be able to actually operate on a heart at my age is absolutely incredible," senior Hannah Smith, 18, said.

Smith said she looks forward to practicing virtual surgical cuts, knowing there's no penalty for a mistake in virtual reality.

"If you mess up in real life, there's no going back," she said.

The school's virtual cadaver table was paid for by an anonymous donor. There's already a backlog of wannabe doctors waiting for their virtual glimpse into their medical futures.

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