Mortuary science/Embalming

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This module is
Embalming Theory and Practice
This topic is
1.1 — Introduction to Embalming
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Introduction[edit | edit source]

History of embalming[edit | edit source]

Embalming is a process that has been practiced all over the globe. One of the first Embalming's recorded was done in Egypt in 3200 B.C. during the first Dynasty. Priests that specialized in mummification and embalming would remove the organs and dry out the body with a chemical called natron. Egyptians believe that the embalming process is a necessary step in order to prepare one for the after life.

A Scottish Surgeon by the name of William Hunter was the first to demonstrate his knowledge of the embalming process and techniques that are key to the bodies preservation, he wrote a report on these techniques and thanks to his report, people all over the world have mastered and improved the many ways the techniques are done.

The United States didn't practice the art of embalming and it didn't become widespread until the Civil War Era. Families of fallen soldiers wanted the chance to see their loved ones and pay their respects and embalming offered a way for this to be accomplished.

The embalming theatre[edit | edit source]

Process[edit | edit source]

Preparing the deceased for embalming[edit | edit source]

Embalming procedure[edit | edit source]

Step 1: Preparation and "setting the features"[edit | edit source]

Step 2: Arterial embalming[edit | edit source]

Arterial embalming is the injection of embalming fluid into arteries, generally using an electrically-driven pump (or, more rarely, gravity). The common carotid artery is an ideal vessel for injection due to its size and strength, providing ease of elevation and insertion of an arterial cannula; further, arteriosclerosis (hardening and loss of elasticity) of this artery is uncommon. Arteriosclerosis increases the risk of pressure causing leakage and tearing in arterial walls, and arterial elasticity is necessary to be able to raise the artery above the skin for injection. The most common type of arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty plaque within arteries), tends to be concentrated around the aorta. A further consideration is post-mortem blood clots (coagula), and these tend to be naturally shifted into areas of the body that will not be viewed through displacement during injection when the common carotid artery is used, although care in identifying and managing coagula prior and during injection is essential to ensuring adequate distribution of embalming fluid. Constant massage of the body throughout injection helps to break up coagula and promote circulatory absorption of the embalming chemicals.

  • Single-point injection (SPI) techniques involve injection and drainage being performed from a single location in the body, usually via the right common carotid artery for injection and the right internal jugular vein for drainage.
  • Restricted cervical injection (RCI) techniques involve making two incisions either side of the neck and are perhaps a little more time-consuming; by using a ligature to close the lower portion of the left common carotid artery, excess pressure from is prevented in the head as it is injected separately to the trunk. This technique avoids distention of the head and facial regions from arterial pressure during embalming, guarding against the risk of distending facial features through excess pressure (referred to as "blowing the features" amongst embalmers) whilst allowing large volumes of arterial fluid to be injected. For obese cases, type I diabetic cases with poor peripheral circulation, and cases with partial decomposition, this should be the first method attempted.
  • Multi-point injection (MPI) may be necessary where restricted circulation, severe arteriosclerosis or arterial decomposition mandates low pressure injection; further, where it is very difficult or impossible to dissect and raise the common carotid artery, adequate distribution of embalming fluid will require injection at multiple sites particularly in the extremities, as described below.

Step 3: Arterial and hypodermic injection of extremities and underembalmed regions, if required[edit | edit source]

Step 4: Aspiration and treatment of body cavities[edit | edit source]

Results[edit | edit source]

Summary[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Working With The Dead - Josephine Price Powell