Using Thiel embalmed human cadavers to train doctors and test heart disease and stroke treatments
University of Dundee – Professor Graeme Houston & Ms Helen McLeod
This pioneering work with the Thiel embalming method will help to teach doctors potentially life-saving surgical interventions such as advanced abdominal aortic stent graft repair without the need to practice these methods on animals such as pigs. Heart, stroke, kidney and liver patients are among those who will benefit directly from the training clinicians will undergo.
The University of Dundee’s pioneering work with the Thiel embalming method means that those who bequeath their remains for research and education will soon be helping to teach doctors potentially life-saving surgical interventions and validate the testing of new medical devices.
Our funding will enable staff from the University’s School of Medicine and Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) to develop a programme for training senior medics. Heart, stroke, kidney and liver patients are among those who will benefit from the training clinicians undergo and the devices that are tested using Thiel-embalmed bodies.
This initiative will also help reduce the number of animals used in the course of medical training and device testing procedures, such as pigs, dogs and other animals. It is hoped the programme will be developed in future to allow junior staff to be trained using Thiel cadavers.
Bodies are donated for the purposes of teaching, training and research, enabling surgeons, dentists, scientists and researchers to test techniques, practice procedures and develop new equipment and approaches.
One of our Summer Students, Emma-Jane Macrae, used Thiel-embalmed cadavers to develop a ‘clot model’ for heart diseases. Another intervention that the new project will help train doctors in is advanced abdominal aortic stent graft repair for aortic aneurysms, using a Thiel training technique developed by the University’s Professor Graeme Houston.
Some of the procedures have already been developed and demonstrated while others will be the focus of further development and expansion of existing training models and novel medical devices. New medical devices are continually being developed and require rigorous testing before they can be used to treat patients. Some of these new devices include carotid interventions for stroke patients, the fitting of cardiac pacemakers, arterial stenting and angioplasty.