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Surgeons set to work on corpses at AIIMS new lab

New Delhi, Shiv Sunny, Sept 10, 2013, DHNS:

Budding surgeons at Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre at AIIMS are set to graduate from honing their surgery skills on animals and mannequins to working on unclaimed human bodies.

Having overcome issues of space and other problems, the first cadaver laboratory or body bank in India is set to start at the trauma centre “fairly soon”.

The lab will facilitate training of surgeons on near real-situations before they embark on actual operations.


While the current system of trainings on animals, simulation facility and mannequins is serving the purpose, it has problems of its own.

“While using animals is an existing option, they are expensive. Moreover, there are issues related to ethics in sacrificing animals,” said Dr M C Mishra, the chief of AIIMS trauma centre. Moreover, unlike a living animal, a human cadaver does not have blood.
“But blood is substituted by circulating dye in the body,” he added.

Some other skills such as endoscopy can be learnt to some degree on a dry model, but the lack of real tissues hampers training, something that only a cadaver would be able to provide.

However, procuring unclaimed or donated bodies remains a worry as they are not easily available.

A body is generally considered unclaimed if no one receives the body within 72 hours of death.

“But most of the bodies we currently receive are after post-mortem or medico-legal cases. But a body having undergone post-mortem does not permit all sorts of training. Usually, only the limbs, joints and brains of such bodies are used by us,” said Dr Amit Gupta, additional professor of surgery at the trauma centre.

The trauma centre and the main All India Institute of Meddical Sciences currently receive around two to three bodies every month, which are generally taken by the anatomy department. It is hoping that the Delhi Police will be cooperative in providing the unclaimed bodies and in quick time.

Some of these bodies are also used in the training of orthopaedic surgeons at the hospital, a department which currently provides cadaver training.

But the new cadaver lab will require bodies which are fresh and without injuries.
Moreover, for best results, it is necessary that the tissues of the cadavers remain supple.

Bad preservation

“Bad preservation of the bodies makes the tissues rigid. Luckily, our anatomy department has the facilities for keeping the tissues supple,” said Mishra.

Post use, the bodies will be cremated by the hospital authorities using incinerators. “But most body parts such as arms, thighs and chest would be dismembered and used. So, there would be very little to cremate anyway,” the chief said.

While the centre is hoping it will not fall short of bodies for its new lab, Dr Adarsh Kumar, additional professor of forensic medicine at the hospital, says the government needs to ease the process of procuring cadavers for medical educational purposes so that students at new medical colleges stand to benefit.

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