Midterm 2: Anatomy – Osteology Part

October 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Anatomy is without a doubt the heaviest of the subjects this semester. Many will say that it is pure memorization, which it is, but only to a certain extent. The most underestimated part of our anatomy studies so far is, in my opinion, the ability to understand the parts, their functions, and how things relate to each other. For example, the eye ball is contained within a cavity known as the orbit. You need to be able to list the 10 structures that make up the surfaces of this cavity as well at it’s 11 connections (through canals, fissures, etc). It isn’t enough to be able to identify a structure upon being asked, you have to know where it is, any other names for it, and it’s relation to other structures.

The worst part about preparing for this exam was that there is no one book that covers all of the features that you need to know. Between us, Skjalg and I have two different atlas’ (Yokochi and Netter’s), the Thieme pocketbook, and Moore’s Clinically Oriented anatomy textbook – and even the sum of these did not contain every detail necessary! We were provided several guides by Semmelweis that proved to be very helpful and slides from the lectures. While these covered some areas not covered by the textbooks, the information provided amounted to only 95% or so of the total possible. I wish I kept a log of each new part I learned, simply so I could put a number to them all now. The best list I was able to find contained 502 structures. That’s right, we needed to know over 500 structures for this exam. Not only did we need to know them, but we needed to know details about them and how they interact with other structures, to draw cavities of the face and explain the borders, connections and surface, and to, of course, orient the bone in the body.

The biggest tool for me in preparing was actually other students. We are split into 15 different groups with 15 different professors and 15 different sets of TA’s, which amounts to a lot of varying information. Each professor has different parts that they like to test students on and the TA’s have endless stories about their own first-year experiences. You never know which professor you are going to get or which topics you will be tested on – so you must be prepared for everything!

I’m not going to be able to reproduce an entire transcript, but I will try to list the structures I was tested on and a little about the format of the examination. We all entered the room as we do at the beginning of every lab, put on our white lab coats, and took our seats along the wall and back tables. The examiners were a 5th year student who is teaching his own anatomy class and our co-professor of histology. We are not supposed to have our own professor for our exam, but since our group was too large for one person, she was there to help out. (We don’t really interact with her, as histology labs are spent staring into the microscope.) They explained the set-up of the exam and then began with the first two students. Since we went in alphabetical order, I was the last one to go. By then it had already been an hour and twenty minutes and our group was a rainbow of emotions. Many had received a grade between a 4 and 5 (5 being the highest), some managed a 2 or 3, some few failed, and only one had gotten a 5.  I overheard the name of many structures that are only included in the more in-depth atlas’ and that are often overlooked by students, for example: retromolar triangle, suprameatal triangle, sublingual fossa, submandibular fossa, sphenopterygoid notch (or foramen if ossified). To calm my nerves during the other examinations, I silently repeated lines from my favorite inspirational video, which Skjalg and I watched twice this morning before the exam.

When it was finally my turn, the female examiner had left, leaving me as the focal point of the whole room. I was handed first the coxal (pelvic) bone, then the talus (part of the ankle), the scapula, the clavicle, and finally the skull. These are the structures that I was asked to identify and explain (those that I remember at least). I was not tested on all the parts of the bones, just those selected by the examiner and there were a few that I include in my explanations. The entire exam lasted about 10 minutes – so it was very, very fast paced.


  • I was first asked to orient it in the body and explain how I could identify it as the right coxal bone and the angle at which it sits when standing.
    • Iliopubic eminence
    • Gluteal surface
    • Ala of ilium
    • Ishial tuberosity
    • Greater and lesser sciatic notch
    • Ischial spine
    • Acetabulum
    • Lunate surface
    • Acetabular fossa
    • Obturator foramen
    • Posterior obturator tubercle
    • Anterior superior iliac spine
    • Supra-acetabular groove
    • Pubic crest
    • Symphysial surface
    • Pubic tubercle


  • I was first asked to orient it in the body and explain how I could identify it as the right talus bone.
    • Posterior and lateral processes
    • Lateral and medial malleolar facets
    • Trochlea – for articulation with the malleolar mortise
    • Anterior, intermediate and posterior articular surfaces for the calcaneous bone
    • Talar sulcus
    • Tarsal sinus – how is is formed by the talar sulcus and calcaneal sulcus
    • Head for articulation with the navicular bone


  • I was first asked to orient it in the body and explain how I could identify it as the left scapula.
    • Supra-scapular foramen – I explained that it was a foramen because it was ossified and that it would be considered a notch if not ossified.
    • Infraglenoid tubercle
    • Costal surface
    • Neck of scapula


  • I was first asked to orient it in the body and explain how I could identify it as the right clavicle
    • Sternal end with articular facet for articulation with sternum
    • Acromial end with articular fact for articulation with acromion of scapula
    • Trapezoid line
    • Conoid tubercle
    • Impression for the costoclavicular ligament


  • I wasn’t asked to orient it…for obvious reasons.
  • I was asked to do the following:
    • Name the processes of the maxilla bone
    • Name the parts of the lateral wall of the orbit
    • Name the parts of the temporal bone
    • Name the bones that make of the superior surface of the nasal cavity
    • Name the bones that make of the bony septum of the nasal cavity
    • Name the foramina of the zygomatic bone
    • Name the connections of the tympanic cavity
    • Draw the path of the facial canal and identify its following features
      • (I included a drawing of the internal acoustic meatus with its facial, cochlear and inferior and superior vestibular area quadrants)
      • perpendicular, parallel and descending paths
      • geniculum
      • canal for the greater petrosal nerve
      • stapedius canaliculus and its connections
      • canaliculus for the chorda tympani and its connections
  • I also had to identify the following features:
    • Clivus
    • Condylar canal and its connections
    • Mastoid canal and its connections
    • Petrosal fossa
    • Tympanic canaliculus and its connections
    • Foramen cecum
    • Pterygoid canal (aka Vidian canal) and its connections
    • Zygomatic canal, including:
      • Zygomaticofacial foramen
      • Zygomaticoorbital foramen
      • Zygomaticotemporal foramen
    • Canine fossa
    • External acoustic meatus
    • Tympanic part
    • Occipital groove
    • Jugular foramen – with a smaller, anteriorly placed part for pars nervosa and a larger, posteriorly placed part for pars veinosa
    • Interjugular process of the temporal bone
    • Mastoid canaliculus and its connections
    • Suprameatal triangle
    • Zygomatic crest
    • Carotid sulcus
    • Dorsum sellae
    • Posterior clinoid process
    • Groove for the greater petrosal nerve
    • Hiatus for the greater petrosal nerve
    • Hiatus for the lesser petrosal nerve and its connections
    • Stylomastoid foramen
    • Petrotympanic fissure
    • Tegmental crest
    • Petrosquamous fissure
    • Posterior and anterior nasal spines
    • Foramen lacerum

End exam

Skjalg and I both got perfect scores on our exams 🙂

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