Saturday, November 25, 2006

The end of anatomy as we know it

In honor of the day after Thanksgiving, I’ll try to make you lose your appetite. And I realize that it’s now 2 days after T-day, but it’s a vacation and I can’t be bothered to write a whole entry in a single day.

This last unit of anatomy was probably the most interesting. We had a full month devoted to the head and neck, which was a very high time to body surface ratio. They did throw more histology and embryo at us, but it still afforded us the luxury of more time per body part.

Certain parts were very interesting, as I expected them to be. We got to remove the brain early on by using a bone saw to remove the skull above the eyeline. We don’t get to dissect the brain until next year, but the exterior is the most interesting thing initially in any case. The inside really looks like 18 shades of pink jello, which I’m not looking forward to relearning. The eyes were also quite interesting. The eyeballs themselves were rather plain, but all the muscles and nerves attached behind them were fun to pull apart. The larynx was pretty neat as well, though our vocal cords were pretty mushy and indistinct. The surprising thing was that even parts that I was dreading turned out to have their own value. The nose was surprisingly complex and the system of sinuses was interesting. We dissected the heck out of the neck, separating it into layer after layer, and actually found some interesting connections. The tongue actually has more than a half dozen muscles relating to it and pulling it in different directions. Some days were certainly tedious (due primarily to the small nature of the nerves and vessels in the head) but I never dreaded coming to class.

Working on the face is supposedly the most difficult emotionally. But we’ve been working with this body for the last couple months and I was really past being bothered or grossed out. I personally skinned a good portion of his face and scalped him. I also sawed his skull, though Riley did the final chiseling. He also sawed the head in half vertically. So although we’ve all become callous enough that this didn’t bother us, we did have our grossest moment of dissection. As I’d mentioned, I used the bone saw to work through the skull. But even though I’d cut all the way around, it wouldn’t come apart. So Riley took a chisel to it and still we weren’t able to separate the two halves. Finally we decided to go deeper with the chisel, risking damage to the brain. Riley hit a spot in the back of the skull and all of a sudden blood started gushing out. Understand that cadavers aren’t supposed to have any liquid blood in them. It’s all been drained or congealed by the time we get the body. So having semi-coagulated blood pouring out onto our table was quite the shock. At this point we remembered the blood we’d found in the spinal cord and realized that this had come from the space around the brain. We have no reliable way of recording how much blood attacked us, but we’ve guessed between one and two liters. After we’d cleaned the blood off the table, cadaver and ourselves, we finally got the skull off.

And that folks is the end of anatomy. I’m sure I can come up with gross stories from other classes and everyday life, but they just won’t be the same.

1 comment:

Jeanette said...

So did you ever figure out WHY there was massive amounts of somewhat liquid blood still in your cadaver...? Isn't that a problem?