Cadaveric embalming using a modified Thiel method as an alternative to the formalin method
Formalin embalming method is cheaper and commonly used. Thiel method is said to be complex, expensive, not commonly used but offers better cadavers for student teaching. The study aimed at exploring the effects of two embalming methods; modified Thiel and formalin methods on cadavers in terms of muscle softness, joint flexibility, tissue colour, formalin smell and the ease with which structures can be identified. This was an experimental study design done over the period of three months where four adult male cadavers were embalmed (two under each method) and the outcome was compared. Using gravity about Ten Litres of arterial and five Litres venous Thiel fluids was slowly infused into each Thiel cadaver through the carotid artery and femoral vein respectively and cadavers remained overnight. Thiel cadavers were submerged in the tank containing about 300L of Thiel fluid, covered with a blanket and left for eight weeks. Each formalin cadaver was infused with about 15Litres of 10% formalin using the carotid artery and then wrapped in transparent plastics. Thereafter, cadavers were codified and placed in different rooms where participants examined and dissected some regions starting with Thiel cadavers and crossing over to the formalin cadavers after twenty-four hours. Thiel cadavers were softer than formalin (mean = 4.89 ± 0.53 Thiel and 2.1 ± 1.26 for formalin). For joint flexibility, at least 75% of participants strongly agreed for Thiel and at least 75% of the participants strongly disagreed for formalin (mean = 4.81 ± 0.86 Thiel and 1.71 ± 1.13 formalin). Tissue colour was closer to natural in Thiel compared to the formalin cadavers (mean = 4.82 ± 0.55 Thiel and 1.77 ± 1.07 formalin). There were no complaints due to irritant formalin smell in Thiel cadavers as opposed to the formalin ones (mean = 1.15 ± 0.55 Thiel and 4.56 ± 1.15 formalin). At least 75% agreed that it was easy to identify structures in the Thiel cadavers than formalin (mean = 4.67 ± 0.61 and 2.61 ± 1.14 formalin). Thiel embalming method offers good quality cadavers that are soft, flexible; tissue colour closer to natural state and without is strong formalin smell and structures can easily be identified.
Key words: Cadaveric embalming, modified Thiel, formalin methods