Plastination

Benefits of Plastinated Tissue Specimens

 

 

Benefits of Plastination

The pioneering specimen preservation method of Plastination has changed the way medical professionals, researchers and students engage with, and learn about, the human body.

Plastinates allow a considered encounter and deep engagement with human biology and anatomy, with none of the hallmarks of traditional specimens.

Once medical professionals study human biology and pathology through plastinated specimens, they invariably view traditional specimens as early forerunners of plastination or relics of medical history

Advantages to artificial models or wet specimens

As they stem from natural, individually grown bodies, Plastinates are better than any artificial three-dimensional models of the human organism, which have to be schematized. The learning path of students is accelerated and students’ understanding of material is demonstrably higher. 

Often Plastinates are more revelatory than untreated anatomical specimens in formaldehyde. Diseases such as cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease can now be preserved and studied on a real body. When the physico-chemical treatment is performed correctly, the microscopic cell structures maintain their original shape. Thus, Plastinates are very accurate representations of preserved bodies illustrating all functional structures perfectly.

Advantages to traditional wet specimen dissection

Traditionally medical students familiarize themselves with the human body through a process of removal. First, they remove the skin from the cadaver, then they detach muscles from the limbs, and finally conclude by removing the chest and abdominal walls. After removing the organs, the remainder of the body is – to use their own rather telling term- “dissected down” to the bones and ligaments. 

In Plastination, the body is also first dissected. However, the method makes it possible to create new types of specimens. When the polymers harden, muscles that would ordinarily be slack are firm, allowing the body to be displayed in a variety of unusual poses, either in its entirety or in various stages of anatomical dissection. It is even possible to take a body that has been dissected and render it into components of interest from all angles, thereby creating gaps that allow for informative glimpses into the body and reveal structural relationships that would otherwise remain hidden. 

Since specimens rendered through plastination are durable and permanent, more complex and detailed dissection is worthwhile compared to traditional wet preparation.

Practical Aspects

The use of plastinated specimens relieve universities and other institutions of the myriad logistical responsibilities and economic challenges inherent in managing traditional anatomical teaching resources. 

Many universities maintain their own body donation programs. Such programs are time consuming and require a considerable degree of organization and care with the appropriate administration.

Due to costs, smaller universities may not be able to maintain wet specimen dissection or may need to limit it severely. Due to religious and cultural restrictions, institutions is some countries have no possible access to body donors. Plastinates are economically efficient teaching resources, as additions to traditional teaching methods, or as an advanced alternative to wet specimen dissection. 

Plastinates have a long lasting durability and can be reused year after year. They therefore typically recoup their cost within a few semesters.

The highest quality standards

Our teaching plastinates and specimens are characterized by the highest quality standards. Our anatomy specialists, some with more than 20 years’ experience, meticulously dissect our specimens to highlight even the smallest details and ensure anatomical accuracy.

We manufacture our line of plastinates exclusively in Germany, manufactured by a tenured, experienced team. The result of Plastination also depends crucially on the plastics used. The plastics have been continuously developed since the invention of plastination and allow the production of specimens without any discoloration, shrinkage or drying. Many newly developed plastics and methods are used exclusively by us.

Our plastinates are therefore undisputed worldwide as the best available specimens for research and teaching, and enjoy an excellent reputation in professional circles.

Credentials

Our clients include numerous venerable educational institutions around the world. Renowned universities such as the College of Dentistry at New York University have replaced their previous wet specimen dissection of real bodies with plastinated specimens, and achieved demonstrably improved results in their students’ education. This is especially true for smaller teaching institutions.

Testimonials from these institutions are available upon request, please contact us for further information.

Here you will find a selection of videos of professors from New York University College of Dentistry and
the University of Warwick speaking about their experiences and teaching with Plastinates. 

Evidence-based Benefits of Plastinate Specimens in a Blended Learning Approach for Anatomy Education

Dissection / Prosection

  • Gunther von Hagens created plastination to produce prosected specimens for educational use that are easier to handle and study from than traditional anatomical specimens. Unlike cadavers and prosections, his products are odorless and inert, which can be handled without gloves and do not require any special storage requirements (Bickley et al., 1981; von Hagens, 1979; von Hagens et al, 1987).
  • Several published papers support that the use of plastination in conjunction with dissection as beneficial to students learning because it provides authentic, durable, and relevant anatomical relationships of difficult-to-dissect structures (Nodim, 1996; Latorre et al., 2007a; Cornwall, 2011; Fruhstorfer et al., 2011; Neha et al., 2013; Riederer, 2014b; Latorre et al., 2016)
  • Plastinates can be used for dissections that are too difficult to perform during the time constraints of the modern medical curriculum (Riederer, 2014b)
  • The use of plastination in this regard could then support 3D representations of anatomical relationships that are extremely helpful to learning and retaining anatomy (Abid et al., 2010; Estevez et al., 2010; McNeill, 2011; Preece et al., 2013; Baskaran et al, 2016)
  • Plastinated specimens preserve anatomical relationships that are difficult for learners to comprehend, such as neuroanatomy, in a modality that reduces the issues of wet specimens (Estevez et al., 2010; Silva and Andrade, 2016)
  • Some schools have completely replaced dissection with plastinated prosections and have found promising results in the adequacy of students’ anatomical knowledge (Hoffmann et al., 2010; Baker et al., 2013).
  • The use of plastinated specimens in undergraduate dental education has been linked to an increase in student satisfaction, an increase in students long-term retention of anatomical knowledge evidenced by an improvement in high stakes test scores and a more efficient use of anatomy department resources (Baker et al, 2013).
  • Some institutions have switched to using living anatomy and imaging (McLachlan & Patten, 2006) or virtual learning packages (Durham et al, 2009).

Clinical Anatomy

  • The use of plastinates during clinical anatomy teaching sessions can help with integration of 3D organization of the human body. Furthermore, plastinates are ideal tools for use outside of the dissection room for reference during small-group teaching without the need for special conditions (Latorre et al., 2016).

Digital Rendering / 3D Models

  • A study by Purinton (1991) supports the use of plastinates to supplement computer assisted learning due to its ability to help students synthesize gross anatomy of the brain with histological slides of the same structures. Not only this, but the dryness of plastinates allow hands-on use and eliminates the risk of damaging electronic equipment during digital learning (Lozanoff et al., 2003).

Imaging

  • Similarly, to digital methods of learning anatomy, plastinates can be used in congruence with medical imaging to aid in synthesizing what students learn in cadaver lab with what they are seeing on an MRI or the ultrasound screen. A study comparing the use of sliced plastinated hearts in congruence with imaging the heart through ultrasound reported that the plastinates provided a contextual view of the internal structures of the heart and their complex anatomical relationships that corresponded with the 2D ultrasound parasternal images of the heart (Gomez et al., 2012).

Plastic / Clay Models

  • Some argue that plastic models are inherently impractical to study anatomy because they are subject to artistic renderings that may or may not be anatomically correct. Lozanoff argues that plastination provides students with authentic anatomy as well as showcasing common anatomical variations (Lozanoff et al., 2003).