A New Approach to Teaching Anatomy

Traditionally, medical students familiarise themselves with the human body through a process of removal. First they remove the skin from the corpse, then they detach muscle after muscle from the limbs, and finally conclude by removing the chest and abdominal walls. After removing the organs, the remainder of the body is – to use their own rather telling term – “dissected down” to the bones and ligaments. According to medical encyclopaedias, anatomy is a teaching discipline within the field of medicine; it is based on the dismemberment of the dead and concerned with the form, composition, and structure of the human body up to and including the most intricate details of its tissues, functions, and prenatal development.

Considered in this light, plastination does not differ from traditional anatomy in any way. As an innovative preservation method, it does, however, make it possible to create completely new types of specimens. When the polymers harden, for instance, muscles that would ordinarily be slack can provide support, allowing the body to be displayed in a variety of unusual poses, either in its entirety or in various stages of anatomical dissection. It is even possible to take a body that has been dissected into components of interest and stretch it in all directions, thereby creating gaps that allow for informative glimpses into the body and reveal structural relationships that would otherwise remain hidden.

Plastination and Education

The invention of plastination is an aesthetically sensitive method of preserving meticulously dissected anatomical specimens and even entire bodies as permanent, life-like materials for anatomical instruction. The body cells and natural surface structures retain their original forms and are identical to their condition prior to preservation, even at a microscopic level. The specimens are dry and odourless, and remain unchanged for a virtually unlimited amount of time, making them truly accessible. These characteristics lend plastinated specimens inestimable value both for training prospective doctors and for educating non-professionals in the field of medicine.

When laypersons view a plastinated human body or organ for the first time, their emotional response can be quite powerful. However, if they do not immediately recoil in horror and can regain their composure after facing this existential experience, they are often gripped with a deeply moving fascination for what has been fixed in this novel way on the border between death and decomposition.

Anatomical museums generally show nothing more than bleached out specimens of the human body kept in small jars. Specimens such as these are not suitable for educating the public on the normal functions and disorders of the human organism. Non-professionals rarely have the opportunity to see the material used for research and teaching – which includes malformed foetuses, organs, and tissue that have been damaged in every conceivable manner.


Donating Your Body for Plastination by Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany

Specification of Cadaver

1. Standing  plastinated whole body female cadaver:  showing the visceral organ of the thorax, abdomen and pelvic region.

1.1 Thorax and abdominal wall Is removed showing the visceral organs:

–  right lung attached with trachea and bronchus remained

– left lung Is removed to expose the heart

– part of liver and greater omentum Is removed to expose the stomach

– Stomach Is lifted up, part of transverse colon, ileum Is removed to reveal the duodenum , pancreas and      spleen

– pelvic region Is dissected showing the vessels, nerves and pelvic floor

– kidneys attached with ureter and urinary bladder in situ

2. Standing plastinated whole body cadaver ( muscle Man)

2.1  Face and neck

– Superficial :  Face -showing Face muscles such as the orbicularis oculi, temporalis, orbicularis oris, masseter, levator anguli oris, facial nerves, parotid gland with ducts

– Neck- plastysma muscle partly remove, showing main muscles of the neck such as the sternocleidomastoid, hyoid , omohyoid, levator scapulae. Superficial veins and nerves remain.

– Deep :  Face – part of mandible removed, part of masseter remove exposing the buccinator muscle, digastric posterior belly muscles,  parotid gland and ducts remained, facial artery and veins.

– Neck-  muscles of the neck, common carotid artery and branches , external jugular veins and branches, vagus nerve, submandibular gland and thyroid gland.

2.2 Upper limb

– Superficial :  anterior and posterior muscles . Thorax region showing the pectoral major, biceps, triceps , lattimus dorsai, muscles of forearm, aponeurosis of hand, cephalic veins, major axilla vessels and nerves

– Deep dissection:  deep anterior and posterior muscles. Thorax region showing the intercostal muscles, pectoral major Is removed, showing the pectoral minor which  partly remove exposing the axilla arteries, and nerves, the cubital fossa, forearm and muscles, tendons, vessels and nerves of hand.

2.3. Lower limbs:

– superficial and deep dissection of femoral region, gluteal region, popliteal fossa, lower leg, medial and lateral of ankle, and foot

3. Plastinated cadaver which sectioned  into 4 parts

– The body is sectioned to 2 parts – upper and lower regions.

– The lower and upper part of the body are cut mid-sagittal sectioned : 2 upper region and 2 lower region.

3.1 Upper region – 2 items

left – deep dissection

right – superficial dissection or vice versa

– Face and neck showing superficial and deep muscles, arteries, veins, parotid gland and duct, submandibular gland and thyroid glands

– thorax and mediastenum

– shoulder, axilla, forearm , cubital fossa and palm of hand

Showing superficial and deep muscle , vessels( artery and veins) , nerves and tendons

3.2. Lower region – 2 items

left – deep dissection

right superficial dissection

Abdomen:  posterior muscles and nerves

Pelvic region:  arteries, vessels, nerves, the pelvic floor

Lower limb:  femoral region, gluteal region, popliteal fossa, lower leg, medial and lateral of ankle, sole of foot and dorsal of foot

Showing superficial and deep muscles, arteries, veins, nerves, muscles and tendons

Visit Us @