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A Novel Cadaveric Embalming Technique for Enhancing Visualisation of Human Anatomy

Lookup NU author(s): Brian Thompson, Emily Green, Kayleigh ScotcherORCiD, Dr Iain KeenanORCiD


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© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Within the discipline of anatomical education, the use of donated human cadavers in laboratory-based learning activities is often described as the 'gold standard' resource for supporting student understanding of anatomy. Due to both historical and educational factors, cadaveric dissection has traditionally been the approach against which other anatomy learning modalities and resources have been judged. To prepare human donors for teaching purposes, bodies must be embalmed with fixative agents to preserve the tissues. Embalmed cadavers can then be dissected by students or can be prosected or plastinated to produce teaching resources. Here, we describe the history of cadaveric preservation in anatomy education and review the practical strengths and limitations of current approaches for the embalming of human bodies. Furthermore, we investigate the pedagogic benefits of a range of established modern embalming techniques. We describe relevant cadaveric attributes and their impacts on learning, including the importance of colour, texture, smell, and joint mobility. We also explore the emotional and humanistic elements of the use of human donors in anatomy education, and the relative impact of these factors when alternative types of embalming process are performed. Based on these underpinnings, we provide a technical description of our modern Newcastle-WhitWell embalming process. In doing so, we aim to inform anatomy educators and technical staff seeking to embalm human donors rapidly and safely and at reduced costs, while enhancing visual and haptic tissue characteristics. We propose that our technique has logistical and pedagogic implications, both for the development of embalming techniques and for student visualisation and learning.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thompson B, Green E, Scotcher K, Keenan ID

Editor(s): Rea PM

Series Editor(s): Wim E. Crusio, Haidong Dong, Heinfried H. Radeke, Nima Rezaei, Ortrud Steinlein, Junjie Xiao

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Biomedical Visualisation: Volume 11

Year: 2022

Volume: 1356

Pages: 299-317

Online publication date: 01/01/2022

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Series Title: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

Publisher: Springer

Place Published: Cham

URL: .https:/

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-87779-8_13

PubMed id: 35146627

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9783030877781