Teaching and learning anatomy by using human cadaveric specimens has been a foundation of medical and biomedical teaching for hundreds of years. Therefore, the majority of institutions that teach topographical anatomy rely on body donation programmes to provide specimens for both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of gross anatomy. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to anatomy teaching because of the suspension of donor acceptance at most institutions. This was largely due to concerns about the potential transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the absence of data about the ability of embalming solutions to neutralise the virus. Twenty embalming solutions commonly used in institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland were tested for their ability to neutralise SARS-CoV-2, using an established cytotoxicity assay. All embalming solutions tested neutralised SARS-CoV-2, with the majority of solutions being effective at high-working dilutions. These results suggest that successful embalming with the tested solutions can neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby facilitating the safe resumption of body donation programmes and cadaveric anatomy teaching.
The authors are grateful to Ms Catherine MacRobbie of the University of Glasgow for administrative help with this project. The authors wish also to thank Prof Gordon Findlater, her Majesty's Inspector for Anatomy in Scotland, for helpful advice.
- body donation