Day 5 - Human Dissection in Phoenix

After some R&R from this highly intense week, here's the fifth installment of my human dissection experience! I think of all the days, this might be the most interesting. There was a lot of things going on, people working on the last parts and so many questions. And brains!

We started the day off with completing the evisceration. So we first had to detach the pectoralis from the chest, and take off as much of the diaphragm as possible from the "roof" of the chest cavity. After that we could start cutting the ribs on both sides. We took turns cutting the ribs - they do have a certain feel to them. We used common gardening cutters, the same you would prune your fruit trees with. Certainly an unusual feeling to use them for ribs. The ribs were fragile and porous, they had a pinkish tone and looked like there were bubbles in them. You could almost hear the texture as you cut the rib, it wasn't a "hard" crack, but rather like breaking it apart type crackle. To finish removing the chest plate, we cut right under the clavicles across the chest. The chest plate was beautiful from the inside, lots of muscle in between each rib, different tissue directions that could be seen under the shiny membrane covering them. Very cool! At last we could see the lungs and the sack for the heart! I was quite surprised to see that the heart was placed so low in the body, because from the pictures you see in a typical anatomy book, it's placed quite high. There are probably individual differences (as with all else), but still.

Good to know that even though anatomy books provide us with a map, the terrain isn't always the same.

From there it was quite easy to detach the diaphragm from the back and spine. It really does have a lot of attachments! And what fascinated me most about the diaphragm was that it was SO thin. It almost felt plastic bag type thin (though it probably was a bit thicker at least). I'm surprised by plenty of tissue in the body, how can something so thin be so strong and durable? How can we abuse things so, and still they do their job just fine? I think it's thinness means that it does a good job moving though. When you think about it a strong and thick diaphragm would probably mean less ease of breathing, and because it's attached to so many other things, most likely that it would inhibit movement across the whole body.

After detaching the diaphragm, it was time to remove the heart sack, with as much surrounding vessels as possible. It wasn't easy! Both the sack and the heart itself had plenty of yellow fat on it. You wouldn't think so, but I guess it's pretty good for keeping the heart safe. I'm not sure if it was a normal or unhealthy amount of fat, I forgot to ask. But when looking at our cadaver on day 1, there was no reason what so ever to believe she was overweight. And her greater omentum was so small, that I think she might not have had enough fat in the right places. But I don't know!

It was a surreal feeling to take out the heart and hold it in my hands. The aorta alone, is as big as the circle I can make by putting my thumb and index finger together! And it is long too! I'm struggling to understand the volume of blood that goes through the heart in only a minute. And how strong and wonderful the heart is to keep doing it's job. Dissecting the heart was really difficult, we weren't sure were to start, or finish. It was a big mess of muscle, fat and vessels. Nonetheless, amazing!

After finishing up the heart it was time to get the lungs out. I wanted to make a good model for us to study outside the body, so I removed the trachea together with both lungs. I also managed to get the thyroid membrane and cartilage, and anything in between that and the trachea. It was hard work getting it all out in one piece, but totally worth it once completed. They actually looked nicer outside the body than on the inside. Our cadaver had some strange lumps on the front of her lungs, which turned out to be some sort of repair of non-efficient alveoli (I think). I can't remember the name of it, but if I recall correctly it was that if two alveoli doesn't function well, they can grow together to be able to regain the function that was previously lost. I'm gonna have to do some research so I don't forget about that completely! Did you know that the alveoli makes up for about 70-75m2 of surface? Crazy, right?

The lungs had an extraordinary texture, it was like minimi bubble wrap to touch. Almost as if you could feel the air going out them! It reminded me of the texture of the aponeurosis on the skull. Very strange, yet fascinating. The color was a deep red/brown. Were the trachea went into the lungs, it felt like bigger bubbles, almost like what the artery plaque felt like, but I'm guessing it's supposed to feel that way there, considering the thickness and feel of the trachea. It was pretty much a tube! Going almost all the way around, but it was soft to the touch against the back. The tube feel went all the way from the insertion in the lungs, to the thyroid membrane.

We took the chance to look closer at the discs when we had freed up the chest cavity. The discs have a really interesting texture and feel to them. They were not at all as soft as I would have imagined. And they looks like trees when you cut them up, with rings going around it. Considering the tightness of everything around the spine, it's amazing that we can even get herniated discs. I wonder how many painful cases of herniated discs and bulging discs that are actually caused by the tissue around the spine and what's supporting it (like the hip), rather than the discs. And I can see how movement would still be beneficial when herniated, as the tissue around the herniation would likely be able to help everything come back to its right place.


When done with the chest cavity, it was time to move on to a different cavity, at the opposite end of the body. I hadn't finished uncover the pelvic floor on Thursday, so this was the time to finish the job. It was a pain the the butt (we even had some slight leakage from said butt). It was almost impossible to do a good job, so I got the bladder, uterus, sigmoid colon/rectum and the whole outside to go in one piece.

What happened next was probably my least favorite part of the week - it was so out of this world and just plain weird! Todd came by and asked about the uterus, which was intact and could be displayed. We also found the Fallopian tubes and ovaries. Todd then asked me to find the cervix, which wasn't all that hard. And to see it, I was to push it out through the vagina. This is were most of the butt leakage happened, along with great difficulty getting the thing out! We had to cut the opening to be able to see anything (I certainly feel my fiffi clam up by then!), and when not even that was a success we (finally) got to cut it up from the inside. This was just the weirdest thing ever! But at least now I know how to tell if someone has had babies or not. If someone has not had a baby, the opening of the cervix is round, and if someone has had baby, the opening changes for to an oval opening, or a line. So I'm glad to say our cadaver had the chance to reproduce while she was alive! The cervix was actually out to the test by two other students, I think they could only open it a few millimeters, which makes it really difficult to understand THATS WERE BABIES EXIT !

After that vaginal adventure, I had to focus on something that wasn't in the lower part of the body. So, me and Johan quickly removed the temporalis on both sides, to prepare for a proper, real life brain scan.

Todd came up with an electric bone saw, me and Oscar held the head and Todd did the hard work. He went all the way around the head, almost all the way through. Cranium smells just like when drilling in teeth by the way. Before going any further, he asked one of the students to grab one of the red tissue bags and turn it inside out. This was for catching the brain! He then proceeded to put a flat screwdriver in between the sides of the cranium and hammer it off. That sound, of bones tearing, was a bit creepy... And like a helmet, the cranium was off! Me and Oscar held the cadaver up the whole time, to keep the brain from spilling over. It really had NO shape what so ever! You couldn't tell one part from the other(it did have the characteristic folds though). So we then went on to pour the brain onto the red bag, what a mess... Inside was still the cerebellum, some of the cranial nerves attached to it and the nerves going to the eyes. We poured that too. I had brains up to my elbows after this, I never thought I'd say that 😳

An embalmed brain would have a quite different texture, more like rubber. That would really help if one would like to study the brain up close, as now we missed "all the fun", as the brain just melted out without any specific part being firm enough to make out.

One of the other groups opened their cranium a bit differently, the first took of the mandible and then used a handsaw to go up the head at an angle. That created three lovely pockets to study after pouring out the contents. A fantastic view!

After seeing the brain floating out like that (twice!) I can't believe how it can actually function! And I'm amazed by the fact the more people doesn't seriously injure their brains while doing stupid and/or crazy things! Also intrigued by the causes of epilepsy (which I have), how big or small is the impact? How much damage does my brain suffer for each of my seizures? I hope I don't have to have any more of those.

One thing that was interesting about the two skulls was the difference in thickness of the cranium. It ranged from about 3-6 mm in one of them (male) to 6-10 mm in the other (female). Ours, the female, also had necrosis of the bone by the frontal lobe. That makes you think about whether or not she had any behavioral problems before she died. Quite interesting really. Apparently the cause of this type of necrosis isn't yet known.

After finishing up with the brain I went to see what Oscar was up to with Todd at one of the other tables. They were dissecting an eye and found an artificial lens! So turns out that cadaver had previously had eye surgery, perhaps for glaucoma or something similar. We also got to see a jelly like piece of tissue that "lives" in the eye. Can't remember the name, but it was fascinating.

After all the head action I went to go through the foot with Staffan. What a beautiful creation. No wonder the foot can cause problems, it's really tight and well planned down there to start with, so any loss of movement or an injury would definitely have consequences! Think of when you go to IKEA and see one of their tiny bedrooms, all well planned and perfect. But if that was your home, there would probably be laundry, books and other things lying around the whole place making the space a lot less functional for you. That is your feet.

Other findings during the day was that our cadaver had a bone spur both in the subtalar joint, which made dorsal flexion of the foot impossible. There was also a bone spur in the acetabulum in one of the hips. A bone spur is pretty much bone tissue where it shouldn't be, usually right in your joint. Don't grow them, they are likely to hurt! Our cadaver also had scoliosis, probably acquired through lifestyle in Todd's opinion. I wouldn't know how to tell the difference!

Another thing we reacted to was how small the thoracic vertebrae is compared to the lumbar vertebrae. I would say even more than in the typical models we use in school.

After lunch we had a look around all the other tables to learn more about everybody else's findings. I learned how small and tiny the meniscus is, and that the bursa pretty much looks like fat. I would have missed it if it wasn't pointed out to me! We also took a good look at the ACL, which two of the guys tried to tear. In just flexion it was pretty much impossible, but with some knee valgus it came off a lot easier! Again, another horrible sound that I'll probably remember forever.

One of the other tables had a woman who had been to surgery and got two big tubes inserted in her body, going from the heart, all the way down to the femoral arteries of both legs. All in all it was about 2.5m of plastic tubing, encased by her body. Extraordinary. As they removed it, they found it went well down into her thighs. We're not sure of the reason why this procedure was done. Do you have any idea?

The woman with four toes (eight all in all) actually had two screws in each of her foot. There wasn't enough time to find out more, but the group working at the table reasoned that they might be there to give the feet a bit more stability, which might be lacking with only four toes. Unfortunately we will never know, but it's interesting to speculate at times.

We also had the opportunity to closely inspect the penis and testicles. I can't remember everything that was said about it, but one of the things that came up was erectile dysfunction and what may cause it. One reason is bad blood circulation, which may make it harder for the blood to make its way into the spongiosus-thingies. There's also the pudendal nerve that can be impinged when sitting a lot. It lies right in between the sacrotuberous ligament and the sacrospinous ligament, so it would quite easily get impinged if those two where too tight.

Other interesting facts you may be interested to know is that the way you expand skulls for education (where the parts of the cranium comes apart), is to insert a tight bag of rice into the head, and to then book it. Viola, cracked skull! Also, the best way to remove tissue from bone is an insect bath (apparently all big institutions has one), that will clear bones of any edible tissue. If the bones need to be whiter they can then be bleached.

After the day we had a short break to thank Todd for the week, and give him a gift as a token of our appreciation!

Then it was time to clean up and prepare the bodies for their journey home to their families. They were all put together with their body part and tissue in a plastic bag to be cooled down. We then got to help out with taking out ten frozen cadavers that had already been dissected for thawing over the weekend, as they too were to make the journey home for cremation and burial with their families.

Thank you for reading! :)

Day 4 - Human Dissection in Phoenix

It's that time again - anatomical enlightenment! Day four of dissection completed and I'm even more intrigued than before! What is this wonder we live in? An engineering masterpiece, which isn't only functional, but truly beautiful. Even guts, when looking through the right lens..

We started out again by preparing the cadavers on the tables, laying on the back. It was time for evisceration!

Todd first showed us how it's done - going through the transversus right into the peritoneum. The incisions were made on both sides, with a final straight cut over the pubic line. That way it was possible to just fold the abs over the chest and get right into the organs. What first met the eye weren't what we expected - many of us didn't know of the greater omentum and it's function! It's a fatty tissue that lies in between the abs and the organs. Its not attached, so it moves to where it's most needed. It's purpose is to protect and help the organs to heal. Apparently it's common with the omentum going to the spleen, especially when people are nearing death (as the spleen will have a lot on its plate by then). The cadaver Todd opened had a perfect omentum, but our cadaver had a small, dried out omentum that lay right above the spleen. It was really interesting to see the differences in the bodies!

One cadaver had swollen or gassy intestines, and they were arranged like four vertical (had she been standing) collars, at least 2" wide. It filled up the whole cavity! Most of the others were either like Todd's or ours.

Anyways, evisceration. So evisceration means removing the organs. For this, the cadavers were on their sides so that gravity could help with the "fallout".. I got to do the evisceration on our cadaver, and it was pretty great actually. Luckily we had no punctures on any of the tissue, and so the smell stayed away. It was detailed work that required precision, and it was SO exciting as I also got to uncover the psoas (hip flexor) as I went. When done we could lay out the whole system on the table, and look at it in its entirety. Awesome. I didn't know that the whole small intestines is connected to the same membrane that supports the system with blood and makes sure that nutrients end up where they're needed. That was really good to see! It looked almost like some sort of sponge like structure, wavy at the edges and intestine-y on the edges.. Other things that were in the same "goo" were the liver, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands, gall bladder, large intestine, stomach and the spleen.

Another really interesting thing is how the large intestines fasten right on the psoas. Ever heard that you should take a walk to make things move in there? Yeah, me too. And now I know why!

The psoas is a really big muscle, and with its close association to the large intestine that means that what we do (activity wise) can have a huge effect on regularity and we'll being. Nobody likes to be constipated! The size of the psoas really surprised me. I knew it was important, but it is a lot thicker than what I could have imagined! The only other muscle that was actually bigger than expected was the adductor magnus (inside thigh).

After evisceration I continued in the now empty space with uncovering the spine, diaphragm and muscles. More about the spine tomorrow (I didn't get very far yet). There was quite a lot of fat to remove still, but it looked really nice at the end of the day.

Tomorrow I'm hoping I'll get deeper into the pelvic floor!

Right next to the psoas I found the femoral nerve, which was real easy to trace down in the thigh. Beautiful to see it all make sense.

Speaking of thighs. Today we successfully took off someone's leg! First he removed the gluteus max, then the medius. From there it was easy to see the superior and inferior gemellus, piriformis and quadratus femoris. And the sciatic nerve. We also had the tfl still in place. Here we did plenty of movement to see how these small muscles, and the movement of the lower extremity, can possibly affect somebody. The risk for trouble is HUGE. We kinda already knew that, but this confirms that there really are a hundred possibilities when we get a client with pain. The only way to know if we're doing the right thing is to listen closely to what your body is saying.

We did movement testing in the leg, while Todd cut up ligaments around the hip joint. Suddenly you could see the structure coming out (and coming in - we didn't stop moving). Eventually we cut all the way round and got to feel the femoral head outside its capsule. Pretty cool. The bones in there doesn't actually tough - the fluid in there makes joints "float". It's almost poetic.

We also got to see the elbow and shoulder joint opened, which was also extraordinary!

Anyways, just a quickie back to hips. I told you yesterday about the four toed lady we have. She had some quite interesting anomalies in her hip and hip flexor. We can't say why for sure, but we can observe and guess. She first seemed to be lacking a piriformis, but we threw discovered something that looked like a split muscle, with some attachment to the glute minimus. Every single cadaver had something different.

Speaking of attachments - turns out that the male cadaver had a fracture of the left trochanter! The piece that was broken off was nicely encapsulated in tissue, so it would probably have been there many years! Very cool to see!

One thing that wasn't very pleasant was when I found the aorta coming down from the heart along the spine and going down in the legs. Just by touching it I could feel the buildup in there. LOADS. So I removed it (it looked like an inverse Y with the vessels leading into the legs). I had to cut it up with scissors, and I struggled, to get it open. The rock hard buildup varied form about 1-2mm thick - that is a lot. I think it was eye opening for everybody to see a blood vessel like that. Imagine we could be full of that stuff, right this second.

Todd said something in class today that really stood out to me. The body strives for perfection. Which means, whatever we give it, it will try to make good things with it. So I'm thinking that if we can only make sure that we're going on the right direction with our clients, it doesn't have to be 100% right all the time, but it need to always improve.

Goodnight world!

Day 3 - Human Dissection in Phoenix

And so day three of dissection has come to an end! It becomes more and more fascinating for every day. For every hour, really. I can't really say it enough - I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and I believe everybody who has anything to do with the human body as their profession should do something like this. It really puts things into perspective! And Dr Todd Garcia is all that a student could wish for in a teacher.

Today started off just like yesterday - taking up the cadavers from the freezer and putting them into the right position on the table. We started off with them on their backs today, to continue work on the arms and legs (separating muscles from each other).

Before doing any work at all, we did a "tour" of the cadavers to see what everybody was working on at their respective tables. That was really interesting!

There's one cadaver who only has four toes on each foot. It is apparently the first time anyone in the group, or Todd himself, has ever come across this phenomena! Today was interesting as the dissection has come to a deeper level, and we would likely be able to tell if she was born like that and if there were any signs of a fifth toe anywhere in there. What the group had discovered at this point was that the tendon that goes down the foot to the little toe was extraordinarily thick, and they suspected that it could be that what would have been the tendon to the little toe (or the one next to it - we don't know which one is missing), had merged with the neighboring tendon as the bone to which that was attached to is really the only thing it could have inserted to (what a confusing paragraph!). All very fascinating!

The next cadaver had a very thick compartment fascia in the calf, looking like an extension of the IT band (which is the tight fascia and going from the hip to the knee). When asked about it, Todd said that there's textbook fascia, and then there's what we see on the table. And in this case the IT band and (relatively thick) fascia of the calf was pretty much the same thing. It's all connected!

We also learned that in "med speak" (=language of doctors!) the leg is actually the part from the knee down, and the thigh is simply the thigh. If we are talking about the whole structure it is referred to as "lower extremity". So now you know that too :)

Going on to the third cadaver we got to look at movement testing in the lower extremities (see what I did there?!), and it was SO cool to see the movement right around the hips, and the ankle during movement. Again, it is great that we get to work with fresh tissue so we can actually MOVE them! The body is a wonder. The group had also found plaque in some of the arteries on the thigh, and getting to feel that was actually quite creepy. Plaque in blood vessels can be caused by high blood pressure, which create small "cracks" in the vessels. Small junk (=like fat, cholesterol and calcium) get stuck in the cracks and builds up over time, increasing the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other unpleasantries. This is not med speak btw. Anyway, the other cadavers had some buildup too, but not quite as much. It felt as it there were small plastic bits in the blood vessel, so no wonder blood vessels with buildup can't function properly!

While moving the legs we got on to another interesting point regarding knee pain. With the muscles now separated we looked at how dysfunction of the calf and foot can inhibit good knee function. Which would make them hurt! Also having tight adductors (=inside of thigh) has a huge effect on how the knee can function properly. It was so cool to see this with no skin, because it became clear that the knee is SO dependent on its neighbors to be able to have a good "working environment"! And just think about how much knee pain we could get rid of, if we only make sure that the tissue above and under the knee actually works! We actually have muscle that connects to the meniscus too, and what do you think would happen if that muscle didn't do its job well?

Next was my groups cadaver, where we got to show some cool upper body movement! I got to show some movement in the hand and forearm, and we also managed to see (thanks to Todd's great eye) the omohyoid inferior in action. To see it we tipped the head back a little to create neck extension + a slight lateral flex (head going to the left), and manually put the arm on the right side in a reach position (so we got tension in the omohyoids, head and arm away from each other). When in the reach position, when I moved the mandible, there was some very nice movement in the muscle. But think of that - your chin is pretty well connected to the shoulder. So what happens if tissue on the front of your neck doesn't work? Wouldn't that likely affect shoulder function? (Yes)

In the last one we also got to see some good neck action. The group had dissected and separated the front very well, so when grabbing the larynx and moving it side to side, there was loads of movement! We also got to learn about how much tension in the muscles around the larynx can affect our voice. Like when we're nervous about something! Another thing I wasn't aware of at all, is that there's actually a connection from the front of the neck to the heart (I forgot the name dammit!), so you can actually stimulate the heart by using the muscles in your neck.. I don't quite understand this let yet, so I'll ask some questions tomorrow!

After the general presentation of the stages of work, we got to go back to actually dissecting. I went even deeper into the forearm and hand, and managed to get it quite "clean" during the day, thanks to a lot of help from Niklas Andersson. I am totally fascinated with this pet of the body! It's insanely complex, beautiful and simply outstanding. Hello fine motor skills!

The carpal tunnel is about as big as my thumb (it fit perfectly in there, once the tendons were removed), and there are plenty of tendons and nerves that needs to have space enough in there to be able to slide through the way they're supposed to. So when finding yourself with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it's quite possible that you can do something about it by treating the forearm and hand, to try to "make space" in there. Movement makes movement :)

During the last part of the day I continued to do a bit of work on the face and scalp just to clean up from yesterday.

Another GREAT part of today was when we looked more at movement in the shoulder. We first located the musculocutaneous nerve right under the bicep, and then traced it back up to the shoulder. At the shoulder, the pectoralis is coming in over the bicep (biceps being under the pec). With really tight pecs, tension in the bicep is forced (so there will be tension in the biceps even when relaxed, which would cause someone to stand around with slightly flexed arms all the time). Which also means that the risk for a nerve impingement would be pretty likely! We see plenty of people with shoulder and arm issues that train a lot of chest - so this could be part of the explanation of why it occurs so often in that population. So keep your chest balanced - not too tight!

Todd showed us his dissecting skills today when he separated the external abdominal oblique, internal abdominal oblique and the transversus abdominis. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the thin layers of muscle - I had expected something thick and probably stiffer. But it does make sense that the abdominal are thinner and goes in different directions. It's where our upper and lower body connects, and it needs to be able to move. It needs to be able to be strong and fast and elastic. One thing that is simply impossible though, is the idea that you'd be able to use one of these muscles by itself (how many people haven't heard they need to strengthen transversus?), since they can only be separated by scalpel and a skilled hand... Its neighbor will move, and then the movement or force will "spread" over muscles, because logically, that means least resistance for the body. If one of these muscles took all the force of movement, people would be broken, like really broken. Anyways. Before we knew it we had reached the peritoneum (=the "sack" which hold the internal organs). I am not looking forward to the smell tomorrow 😳

Last for tonight was a discussion regarding stiff hamstrings (so common). The feel femoral artery has some perforating arteries that goes through the adductor magnus. It is really important that the blood can pass through these arteries in order for the hamstrings to get their blood supply and function! So keeping things moving and elastic in this region is essential.

Talk soon!

Day 2 - Human Dissection in Phoenix

Second day of dissection completed! Today I went into the lab a lot more relaxed and confident that I wasn't gonna freak or/throw up/insert unpleasantness here. It was a gorgeous morning and the lawns on the way to the lab were freshly cut. The smell of summer. Can't wait til it's that time again! Moments like today's walk to the laboratory makes me appreciate life - sunshine, the smell of grass and excitement for the day.

We started with picking our cadavers up from the big, deep freezer and put them on their (now very bare) tummies. To make the tissue a bit more stretched out we propped the chest up on a couple of boards, that made the neck fall into a really nice flexed position.

The areas that I got to dissect and uncover today was the whole trapezius, lats, shoulder, arms, hands and scalp. We also got to witness some very skilled work by Todd Garcia himself, as he showed us the next steps, after getting rid of the skin and fat. The next level was separation of muscles within the fascia profunda, so basically breaking the protective layer that holds the muscles grouped together and then the fascia in between them. It was amazing to both be able to move the limbs with the fascia intact, and then with the fascia removed/broken. Apparently that's not something that you'd be able to do with an embalmed body, so I'm very happy that I got to dissect on fresh tissue.

There has been several good and memorable moments today, and I will try to describe them as well as possible...without getting too gory.

When we had uncovered the back we did movement testing (again) with the arms overhead, down etc, just like we would normally test shoulder blades on a client. It was really cool to see the shoulder blade "pop" into the latissimus dorsi when reaching overhead. It was like a nice perfect little pocket! The tissue moved beautifully together. This was a moment when you truly realize how much tight lats can inhibit shoulder blade and shoulder function. It is all connected, and it all needs to work.

If you've ever used a foam roller, you are probably familiar with something called the IT band. We got to separate that from the muscle layer, while still having the ends "in place". It's really broad, broader than you'd think, with the ability to stretch different ways. We did some movement testing on the legs too, and it was very fascinating to see both before removing the fascia/separating the IT band and after, what the movement looked like. We can just go home and forget about isolation (again) - it's simply not possible to isolate a muscle from its surrounding tissue! Not even when you manually isolate it with a scalpel can you do it.. When you see a body like this a lot of things make so much more sense.

The textbook isn't perfect - we've definitely seen that today. Five different cadavers, all with different looking structures and tissue. Not two were alike! And should we really expect them to? No, of course not. But the we must also remember to treat and work with each body, within its own frame and possibilities, rather than believe that the same frame is right for every person.


Something else that was extraordinary was the lumbar aponeurosis! (=big thick tendon). Wow! It was a nice shiny layer with fibers going over each other, in opposite directions, to accommodate for movement. Just looking at the size and placement of it makes you understand how crucial it must be for good function, as it connects upper and lower body. A dehydrated, unstretchy aponeurosis is probably not anything you'd want. It was interesting, because the different cadavers had different "looks" on the tissue, they weren't all beautiful, shiny or easy to "strip". Our cadaver was VERY difficult around the lower back, and we didn't get to see any of that nice tissue (the group is working on five cadavers in total).

I took a special interest in the hands and forearms, which I stripped and cleaned. This could actually have been the best thing all day! When bare, the forearm and hand is just simply amazing. We have a lot of tendons in the area and when doing the separations of the muscles in the area, it was possible to move the fingers, one by one, in flexion and extension by only pulling the muscle/tendon in the forearm. I also preserved the retinaculum that acts as a bracelet for the tendons to pass through as we move the hand. That too was beautiful. You could see the directions in the tissue, nice and shiny with some movement.

Do not read on if sensitive :)

Another memorable moment was when I pulled off the scalp and managed to keep the galea aponeurotica (=big thick head tendon) in place! The sound it made I'll probably remember forever. It was kinda like pulling a sheet apart, but smaller and relatively stronger material. I can't put the sound into words, but I shall remember it. The touch of the scalp tissue was so different from anything else on the body. It was like tiny little "blobs", like the structure on the ends of chicken bone, but soft! The muscles on the sides of the head could be kept intact and that too was really cool to see. I'm really looking forward to the last day, when we'll be dissecting the brain!

I'm glad to say that they still don't really smell that much, despite the decomposing.... But I'm sure that will change once we're removing intestines. The worst thing about dissecting actually doesn't have anything to do with the bodies. It's the cleaning up after!