Monday, 28 July 2008

Anatomy has to be seen to be believed

The first couple of years of medical school have passed by surprisingly quickly and without any major hitches. Exams have been passed and I love pretty much everything about student life other than the shit we’ve had to put up with from the agency we’re renting our house from. The kitchen is sinking into the downstairs bathroom, my room must be contravening human rights it’s so small and the living room is a cockroach’s wet dream. Understandably I’m making the most of the home comforts while I can. There are so many memories that will stick with me long after uni is finished, likewise friends – however on the academic side of things, nothing stands out more than the anatomy sessions.

I’m lucky to go to a med school which still uses human cadaveric dissection to help teach anatomy. The first time we went into the dissection lab was strangely unsettling, knowing each of the metal tables had a dead body on them (covered with blue sheets) was freaky, but also excited my curiosity! It took until second year though, before I was really shocked… We were focusing on the head and had looked at various skulls and prosections of the brain in several planes. The time had come where we had to get down and dirty with our own body. Now for the uninitiated, the process of exposing the human brain is a wee bit traumatising – certainly not a tidy, clinical procedure:

  • Use scalpel to cut through scalp all the way around the head, to the bone
  • Slip fingers under scalp and tear it away from the skull (a harder task than the first volunteer anticipated)
  • Cut all the way through skull, continuing around until calvarium is separated from the rest of the skull using a CIRCULAR SAW

  • Slice through the dural reflections holding the calvarium to the brain
  • Voila, a scene straight out of Silence of the Lambs

All in all quite a brutal session, especially as I was one of the ‘fortunate’ ones to wield the circular saw. The noise was something else… Subsequent sessions involved chiselling through the back of the orbit to remove the eye-socket (complete with eye) and removing most of the skin from the face in order to reveal the underlying muscles and neurovascular structures. Fascinating, awesome and nauseating in equal measures!

The wonders of the human body will never cease to amaze me.

1 comment:

Lily said...

My personal favourite was when we sliced the body in half at about the belly button and then in half again so we had a leg and hip complete with prostate and rectum and other interesting bits. We had to carry the legs to the huge sinks and wash out the rectum. Surreal. Gross. Facinating.