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October 01, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 17)

Plastination at the Medical University of Vienna

  • Site navigation tutorial, various image collections
  • Poor visual appeal for some pages (i.e., yellow text on white background)

Plastination of the body is a growing trend—and no, I’m not referring to the enhancements of Hollywood starlets.  Plastination is a process of preserving specimens, whereby the water and fat from the specimen are replaced by a resin. Three major resins used with this technique are silicone, epoxy, and polyester. So what are the advantages? For one, medical students can learn anatomy without smelling like cadavers themselves. Additionally, plastination permits better imaging of the specimens. A great assortment of such images can be found at the Medical University of Vienna’s plastination website. Image collections include “neuroanatomy,” “limbs,” and “thorax,” among others. The thorax collection even includes a 3-D tour through the heart. All of the images are accompanied by anatomical labels, which can be turned off in “exam mode.” A tutorial guides you through the site, including the slightly obscured silver icon in the middle of the screen that gives more information about the technique.

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