Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Anatomy has begun.

Woah Nellie!

And they're off! The first person who can identify 10,000 new structures and vocabulary words that sound like gibberish is the winner!

(I mean, seriously, who came up with iliopsoas? Trochanter?)

We met our temporary cadaver on Tuesday. Temporary because she is really the dental school's cadaver; they've already dissecting everything above the waist. We are simply dissecting her legs. In January, when we finish the legs, we will get a fresh cadaver. That's the one I plan on getting attached to.

Our anatomy course will extend from now until March sometime. We dissect two days a week, while the other three days are filled with the appropriate physical diagnosis, physiology, pathology and pharmacology for that body part.

So many "P"s
We get a quick 50 minute lecture on the femoral triangle (anterior/medial portion of the thigh) and we are kicked into the anatomy hall for 2.5 hours of dissection. I'm working with a group of 6; all of them are awesome. None of us know what the heck is going on.

"Ummm, so what do we do now?"

"I don't know. Should we start?"

"All the groups around us have started."

"Uh, okay, let's start."

"Huh. We probably need a scalpel. Does anyone know how to put a scalpel blade on?"


"Alright, I'll try."

"Where do we cut? Maybe we should wait for an instructor?"

The group next to us yells, "Nah, don't bother waiting. Just starting cutting stuff up."

"Ooookay. I mean, we do have two legs. If we screw one up, we'll dissect the other one."

"How deep do I cut here?"

"Is that still even skin?"

"Who the heck knows."

"What is that white stuff? What's the yellow stuff? Where are we?"

"Is that the femoral vein? No, wait, maybe it's an artery. You know, it could be nerve. Maybe a lymph node?"

45 minutes in, with only two cuts made, and our group still floundering about above the fascia lata, our instructor shows up.

"What are you guys doing here? Where is your reference point? What are you even looking for?"

"Dear God, we have no idea. We thought that's what you were for."

"Where is her iliac crest?"


"Oh no! You cut the Saphenous vein. Your patient is bleeding out! Oh, too late. She's dead."

He pauses.

"So, now that you've killed your patient, let me show you what is going on here."

Turns out that our Saphenous vein didn't get filled with embalming fluid, so even the instructors had to do a big of digging to make sure it was actually the Saphenous vein. He explained what the fascia lata was, and that we should look for fat. When we stopped seeing fat, we were through the fascia lata and into muscle.

Fortunately for us, our patient had fat in her muscles. SO DIFFICULT TO TELL WHAT IS GOING ON.

Also, females are fatty. It wasn't fair. All these people around us had nice, lean, male cadavers. Their muscles and tissue were smooth, clean, crisp lines. Ours looked like a squidgy mess of custard and spaghetti. And no matter what we did, we couldn't really clean it up well.

The smell didn't really bother me, which was a welcome surprise. Maybe it will in another few weeks. We'll see.

I will say this: holding/using a scalpel was very natural for me. I had a really good grasp of the spatial-ness of the body, and it was SUPER FUN to cut. Surgery is back in, folks!

And now I have an appreciation for why general surgery residency is 5 years. It would be a long time before I would be comfortable doing something like a saphenous cutdown.

PS. Wow, are the models used in anatomy books attractive. Not the cadavers, stop it, gross. I'm talking about the nude models they use to show you an overlay of muscles or something.  That guy has buns of steel.


  1. "What is that white stuff? What's the yellow stuff? Where are we?"

    "Is that the femoral vein? No, wait, maybe it's an artery. You know, it could be nerve. Maybe a lymph node?"

    Hahaha! I haven't laughed like that for a while. Brought back some fun, old memories. =D

  2. That sounds so familiar. ;)

    And for the record, anatomy is SO much easier to recognize in LIVE people...who have the correctly colored entities. Trust me...if you go through a Saphenous in a live person you will know. ;)