- AUTOPSY INSTRUMENTS
- Autopsy instruments might be placed in spotting or may be given to you during viva & asked to identify that particular instrument and comment about its use during autopsy. You'll have to identify these instruments & know these few things regarding them.
- These large scissors are used for opening the intestines. The
bulb-ended blade is inserted into the lumen (the hollow inside) of the
gut, and the instrument is smoothly stripped down the length of the
intestine. The blunt bulb keeps the internal blade from perforating the gut
from the inside.
- Skull chisel
- After scoring the calvarium (the vault-like part of the skull that
holds the brain) with the vibrating saw or hand saw, the chisel is used to
gently finish the separation of the top of the calvarium from the lower
skull, thus exposing the brain and its coverings (meninges).
- Hagedorn needle
- Also called the sailmaker's needle, this is a large needle with an
eye for suturing the body after the autopsy is finished. Heavy
twine, which is much coarser than suture, is used for the
- Rib cutters
- These look like small pruning shears and are used to cut through the ribs prior to
lifting off the chest plate.
- Hammer with hook
- The hammer is
used with the chisel to separate the calvarium from the lower skull. The hook is handy
to pull the calvarium away.
- Also referred to simply as the "long knife," this is used to smoothly cut solid organs
into slices for examination, display, and photography of the organs' cut surfaces, including stripping the gut from the mesentery and opening the heart chambers with this large,
- This differs from the surgeon's scalpel in having a longer handle for reaching deeper
into body cavities. The disposable blade is usually a #22 size, which is the largest commonly
- Toothed forceps
- The teeth on these "pickups" lend strength in gripping heavy organs for removal. In surgical pathology, teeth are a liability in that they increase the risk of cross contamination between specimens, so untoothed forceps are used there.
- These are otherwise unremarkable scissors used for opening hollow organs (such as the gallbladder) and trimming off tissues. They can also be used for blunt dissection by means of an "opening" motion, rather than the more familiar "closing" motion used in cutting.
- Bone saw
- This hand saw is rarely used today, most often by pathologists who
fear infection from aersols thrown up by the much more vigorous
vibrating saw. The hand saw can be used to saw through the
skull, but it's very slow-going compared to the vibrating saw.
- Vibrating saw
- The vibrating saw, also referred to eponymously as the "Stryker saw," is the instrument
of choice for opening the skull & removing the brain. The blade reciprocates rapidly
with a small amplitude. This action prevents the saw from cutting soft tissues, notably the
prosector's hand. The disadvantage of vibrating saws is that they throw up more potentially
infectious aerosols than do hand saws.