The chemicals between us?First results of the cluster analyses on anatomy embalming procedures in the German-speaking countries
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courses utilizing preserved human tissues for educational training offer an
important pathway to acquire basic anatomical knowledge. Owing to the reevaluation
of formaldehyde limits by the European Commission, a joint approach was chosen
by the German-speaking
anatomies in Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) to find
commonalities among embalming protocols and infrastructure. A survey comprising
537 items was circulated to all anatomies in German-speaking
Europe. Clusters were
established for ?ethanol?-,
(?FA?), and ?other? embalming procedures,
depending on the chemicals considered the most relevant for each protocol.
The logistical framework, volumes of chemicals, and infrastructure were found to be
highly diverse between the groups and protocols. Formaldehyde quantities deployed
per annum were three-fold
higher in the ?FA? (223 L/a) compared to the ?ethanol?
(71.0 L/a) group, but not for ?other? (97.8 L/a), though the volumes injected per body
were similar. ?FA? was strongly related to table-borne
air ventilation and total fixative
volumes ?1000 L. ?Ethanol? was strongly related to total fixative volumes >1000 L, ceiling-and
air ventilation, and explosion-proof
facilities. Air ventilation
was found to be installed symmetrically in the mortuary and dissection facilities.
Certain predictors exist for the interplay between the embalming used in a given
infrastructure and technical measures. The here-established
cluster analysis may
serve as decision supportive tool when considering altering embalming protocols or
establishing joint protocols between institutions, following a best practice approach
to cater toward best-suited
tissue characteristics for educational purposes, while simultaneously
addressing future demands on exposure limits.