NTU medical school to pioneer use of plastinated bodies in teaching

Singapore's newest medical school at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will be pioneering the use of plastinated bodies for medical education in Singapore.

These are real human bodies donated to science, preserved via the method of plastination, and will be used to teach anatomy. It will be ready for the first batch of 54 medical students this August.

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, jointly set up by Imperial College London and NTU, had specially ordered the human bodies and various body parts from Germany, which were prepared to the school's specifications. With the use of plastinated bodies and body parts, traditionally preserved cadavers which are in short supply in Singapore, will no longer be needed by the school.

Plastination is the process of taking organic tissue - a human body in this case - and replacing the water in it with a liquid silicone polymer. The polymer hardens after the application of a catalyst, permanently preserving the body.

As teaching aids, plastinated organs offer advantages over models and organs preserved in formaldehyde, the traditional method.

Assistant Professor Dinesh Kumar Srinivasan the Lead for Anatomy Teaching at LKCMedicine said the plastinated human specimens are excellent tools for teaching anatomy as they are durable, safe and non-toxic. "These highly detailed, plastinated human specimens are very durable and can be repeatedly handled by students without deterioration and it can be stored just like any inert object," Prof Srinivasan said.

In addition to plastinated human bodies, students will also learn from microscopic slides to understand the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues of humans.

At the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine students learn anatomy from both human cadavers and 3-D models and multimedia software developed by the school. Students at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School learn anatomy and dissection through practice on cadavers, together with clinical materials such as X-rays, CT scans and scope images.