The chemicals between us—First results of the cluster analyses on anatomy embalming procedures in the German-speaking countries

Kerner AM, Biedermann U, Bräuer L, Caspers S, Doll S, Engelhardt M, Filler TJ, Ghebremedhin E, Gundlach S, Hayn-Leichsenring GU, Heermann S, Hettwer-Steeger I, Hiepe L, Hirt B, Hirtler L, Hörmann R, Kulisch C, Lange T, Leube R, Meuser AH, Müller-Gerbl M, Nassenstein C, Neckel PH, Nimtschke U, Paulsen F, Prescher A, Pretterklieber M, Schliwa S, Schmidt K, Schmiedl A, Schomerus C, Schulze-Tanzil G, Schumacher U, Schumann S, Spindler V, Streicher J, Tschernig T, Unverzagt A, Valentiner U, Viebahn C, Wedel T, Weigner J, Weninger WW, Westermann J, Weyers I, Waschke J, Hammer N (2023)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2023


DOI: 10.1002/ase.2285


Hands-on courses utilizing preserved human tissues for educational training offer an important pathway to acquire basic anatomical knowledge. Owing to the reevaluation of formaldehyde limits by the European Commission, a joint approach was chosen by the German-speaking anatomies in Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) to find commonalities among embalming protocols and infrastructure. A survey comprising 537 items was circulated to all anatomies in German-speaking Europe. Clusters were established for “ethanol”-, formaldehyde-based (“FA”), and “other” embalming procedures, depending on the chemicals considered the most relevant for each protocol. The logistical framework, volumes of chemicals, and infrastructure were found to be highly diverse between the groups and protocols. Formaldehyde quantities deployed per annum were three-fold higher in the “FA” (223 L/a) compared to the “ethanol” (71.0 L/a) group, but not for “other” (97.8 L/a), though the volumes injected per body were similar. “FA” was strongly related to table-borne air ventilation and total fixative volumes ≤1000 L. “Ethanol” was strongly related to total fixative volumes >1000 L, ceiling- and floor-borne air ventilation, and explosion-proof facilities. Air ventilation was found to be installed symmetrically in the mortuary and dissection facilities. Certain predictors exist for the interplay between the embalming used in a given infrastructure and technical measures. The here-established cluster analysis may serve as decision supportive tool when considering altering embalming protocols or establishing joint protocols between institutions, following a best practice approach to cater toward best-suited tissue characteristics for educational purposes, while simultaneously addressing future demands on exposure limits.

Authors with CRIS profile

Involved external institutions

Medizinische Universität Graz AT Austria (AT) Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf DE Germany (DE) Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg DE Germany (DE) Johannes Kepler Universität (JKU) Linz AT Austria (AT) Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) DE Germany (DE) Georg-August-Universität Göttingen DE Germany (DE) Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel DE Germany (DE) Freie Universität Berlin DE Germany (DE) Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main DE Germany (DE) Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn DE Germany (DE) Universitätsklinikum Jena DE Germany (DE) Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg DE Germany (DE) Universitätsmedizin Rostock DE Germany (DE) Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen DE Germany (DE) Medizinische Universität Wien AT Austria (AT) Medizinische Universität Innsbruck AT Austria (AT) Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin DE Germany (DE) Universitätsklinikum Aachen (UKA) DE Germany (DE) Universität Basel CH Switzerland (CH) Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen DE Germany (DE) Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus Dresden DE Germany (DE) Universität Leipzig DE Germany (DE) Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH) / Hannover Medical School DE Germany (DE) Paracelsus Medizinische Privatuniversität, Nürnberg DE Germany (DE) Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz DE Germany (DE) Karl Landsteiner Privatuniversität für Gesundheitswissenschaften GmbH AT Austria (AT) Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes (UKS) DE Germany (DE) Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) DE Germany (DE) Universität zu Lübeck DE Germany (DE)

How to cite


Kerner, A.M., Biedermann, U., Bräuer, L., Caspers, S., Doll, S., Engelhardt, M.,... Hammer, N. (2023). The chemicals between us—First results of the cluster analyses on anatomy embalming procedures in the German-speaking countries. Anatomical Sciences Education.


Kerner, Alexander Michael, et al. "The chemicals between us—First results of the cluster analyses on anatomy embalming procedures in the German-speaking countries." Anatomical Sciences Education (2023).

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