Jul 7, 2015
68
14
California
Status
Medical Student
Hello,

I started med school a couple of week ago, and i have my first practical exam soon. I'm having a difficult time telling the difference between nerves, arteries, and veins. I know that the veins are usually darker, but some people told me that i should not rely on the color.

If I am allowed to touch the structure, i can tell the difference between an artery(hollow), and a nerve(firm)... But we are not allowed to touch anything on the cadaver during the practical.

Does anyone have any tips on visually identifying these three structures?

Thank you!
 
Oct 17, 2013
92
49
Status
For anatomy lab practicals my strategy was identifying the general area I'm looking at, orient myself to anterior/posterior/ventral/dorsal depending on the area/organ, and then asking myself what structures should be present and how they should be oriented. If you know what structures go where, it should immensely help in identifying what's tagged. It's also helpful to see upstream and downstream of where any tagged structure is coming to and from. You put all this visual info together and combine it with what you know about normal anatomy to come up with your answer.
 

DrPatriot

2+ Year Member
May 27, 2015
822
744
Good Ole' USA
Status
Medical Student
Hello,

I started med school a couple of week ago, and i have my first practical exam soon. I'm having a difficult time telling the difference between nerves, arteries, and veins. I know that the veins are usually darker, but some people told me that i should not rely on the color.

If I am allowed to touch the structure, i can tell the difference between an artery(hollow), and a nerve(firm)... But we are not allowed to touch anything on the cadaver during the practical.

Does anyone have any tips on visually identifying these three structures?

Thank you!
With veins you can also sometimes see valves present if the dissection was well done

Sent from my A1-840FHD using SDN mobile
 

DrPatriot

2+ Year Member
May 27, 2015
822
744
Good Ole' USA
Status
Medical Student
Hello,

I started med school a couple of week ago, and i have my first practical exam soon. I'm having a difficult time telling the difference between nerves, arteries, and veins. I know that the veins are usually darker, but some people told me that i should not rely on the color.

If I am allowed to touch the structure, i can tell the difference between an artery(hollow), and a nerve(firm)... But we are not allowed to touch anything on the cadaver during the practical.

Does anyone have any tips on visually identifying these three structures?

Thank you!
Also as you spend more time in lab you just begin to be able to tell by repetition and just general look. I know that doesn't help much but I would take advantage of every open lab opportunity
 

073116

2+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2016
228
138
Status
Medical Student
This question comes up every time every year. Nerves are shiny, white, striated, tend to split in V shape (as they don't have a blood flow inside them to care for hydraulic dynamics). Arteries are tortuous, round, tend to split in T shape (as they need to allow good blood flow). Veins are usually flat, darker color as they are more transparent and tend to still have old blood. Usually on anatomy exams you won't be asked about veins until you hit abdominal area where you'll see really big and main veins. It's more often they will ask you about nerves and arteries as they are considered more important and tend to have predictable anatomy locations (unlike small veins which can be present in different areas in different individuals). Basically if you see a striated straight long (often thin) nerve - you know its nerve. If you see wavy, tortuous round shaped artery - it's artery. Of course knowing local area anatomy is a plus - because often nerves tend to be positioned in a specific manner (usually deeper than arteries, tho there are some exceptions).
I'm just a MS1 in my 2nd month so far, but hopefully this info is helpful
 
6

68PGunner

Hello,

I started med school a couple of week ago, and i have my first practical exam soon. I'm having a difficult time telling the difference between nerves, arteries, and veins. I know that the veins are usually darker, but some people told me that i should not rely on the color.

If I am allowed to touch the structure, i can tell the difference between an artery(hollow), and a nerve(firm)... But we are not allowed to touch anything on the cadaver during the practical.

Does anyone have any tips on visually identifying these three structures?

Thank you!
You will think you fail your lab practical hoping for a 60% or higher and thinking that your didactic exam results will carry you to a pass with a 90% or higher.

When you get your exam back, you will do 20-30% better on the lab practical and 10-15% worse on the didactic.
 
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073116

2+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2016
228
138
Status
Medical Student
You will think you fail your lab practical hoping for a 60% or higher and thinking that your didactic exam results will carry you to a pass with a 90% or higher.

When you get your exam back, you will do 20-30% better on the lab practical and 10-15% worse on the didactic.
Yes, for some mythical reason that was true in my case too. One more unexplained phenomena of evil harsh medical student life :)