The Plastination Method (by denizozge)

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Human Anatomy

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The Plastination Method (by denizozge)

The idea behind plastination

Plastination is a technique or process used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample


There are four steps in the standard process of plastination: 1.Fixation 2.Dehydration 3.Forced Impregnation 4.Hardening (Curing) Water and lipid tissues are replaced by curable polymers. Curable polymers used by plastination include silicone, epoxy and polyester-copolymer.The first step of plastination is fixation. Fixation, frequently utilizing a formaldehyde based solution, serves two functions. Dissecting the specimen to show specific anatomical elements can be time consuming. Formaldehyde or other preserving solutions help prevent decomposition of the tissues. They may also infer a degree of rigidity. This can be beneficial in maintaining the shape or arrangement of a specimen. A stomach might be inflated or a leg bent at the knee for example.After any necessary dissections take place, the specimen is then placed in a bath of acetone. Under freezing conditions, the acetone draws out all the water and replaces it inside the cells.In the third step, the specimen is then placed in a bath of liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resin. By creating a vacuum, the acetone is made to boil at a low temperature. As the acetone vaporizes and leaves the cells, it draws the liquid polymer in behind it, leaving a cell filled with liquid plastic.The plastic must then be cured with gas, heat, or ultraviolet light, in order to harden it.A specimen can be anything from a full human body to a small piece of an animal organ, and they are known as 'plastinates'.[citation needed] Once plastinated, the specimens and bodies are further manipulated and positioned prior to curing (hardening) of the polymer chains

History of plastination;In November 1979, Gunther von Hagens applied for a German patent, proposing the idea of preserving animal and vegetable tissues permanently by synthetic resin impregnation. Since then, von Hagens has applied for further US patents regarding work on preserving biological tissues with polymers.With the success of his patents, von Hagens went on to form the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany in 1993. The Institute of Plastination, along with von Hagens made their first showing of plastinated bodies in Japan in 1995, which drew more than three million visitors. The Institute maintains three international centres of plastination: in Germany, Kyrgyzstan and China.

Plastinated specimens have been enthusiastically received both by Michigan university and students mainly because they present many distinct advantages over traditionally preserved specimens. These include: 1) Excellent quality and durability 2) A reduction in toxic, noxious fumes, and 3) Greater flexibility of use both inside and outside of the classroom, including their ability to interface with computer software

Plastination permits preservation of organs or specimens with unusual morphology or exhibiting a rare disease. These specimens are invaluable assets for museums of anatomy and pathology because they offer the opportunity to educate the future generations of healthcare providers as well as the general public.


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