A Comparative Study of Thiel Soft-embalmed and Formalin Preserved Cadavers for Anatomy Dissection

  • Pio Renato F. Villacorta
  • Harivelle Charmaine T. Hernando
  • Abdel Jeffri A. Abdulla
  • Jupiter Kelly H. Barroa
Keywords: Thiel cadaver, formalin-preserved cadaver, gross anatomy


Background and Objective. Cadavers are the main teaching and learning tools utilized by faculty and students of Gross Anatomy. The conventional procedure of using formalin to preserve cadavers has its limited benefit due to its obnoxious odor, darkened color, indistinguishable small structures, rigid joints, with friable organs and tissues. Using the Thiel Method, cadavers are known to have: life-like presentation, a high degree of suppleness, natural mobilization of various body parts with tolerable odor, natural color, and antimicrobial and antifungal efficacy. The aim of this study was to compare the Thiel soft-embalmed cadaver and the formalin-preserved cadaver for use in Gross Anatomy dissection.

Materials and Method. Six formalin-preserved cadavers were compared with six Thiel soft-embalmed ones and were evaluated by 160 first year medical students and 10 faculty members of Gross Anatomy from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine using a visual analogue scale that evaluated the cadaver’s presenting color. A Likert scale was utilized to assess the skin and muscle texture, blood vessel integrity, odor, joint flexibility, and state of cadaver preservation. Their perceptions on the ease of the dissection process, distensibility, and differentiation of structures were also elicited through a questionnaire checklist.

Results. Results show that the Thiel Method-preserved cadavers were rated higher compared to the formalinpreserved cadavers in terms of: 1) presenting color; 2) tolerable odor; 3) skin and muscle texture; 4) blood vessel integrity; 5) joint flexibility; and 6) state of cadaver preservation after 1 year. However, the ease of the dissection process, the distensibility of structures, and the differentiation of the various structures were easily managed in the formalin-preserved cadavers while the feasibility of practicing laparoscopy, endoscopy, and intubation were seen in the Thiel soft-embalmed cadavers. Results validate the claims of previous studies on the advantages presented in using the Thiel Method.

Conclusion. Cadavers preserved utilizing the Thiel Method are life-like and can be used for Gross Anatomy dissection. The data gathered support the feasibility of using them also in research and training.


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