The Journal of Plastination

Published in the J. Int. Soc. Plast. 20:4-5 (2005)

Letter to the Editor: Uses and abuses of the word "Plastination"

AUTHORS:
Gilles Grondin1
affiliations:

1765 rue Charon, Trois-Rivieres, Qc, G8Y  2L3, Canada

ABSTRACT:

The term "plastination" appeared for the first time in scientific literature in two manuscripts published in the German journal Der Praparator in 1979 (von Hagens, 1979a; Knebel, 1979). A manuscript published in The Anatomical Record did not use the word plastination but gave a precise description of the impregnation process that is the key to the plastination technique (von Hagens, l 979b). In these papers, plastination is described as, "a new method of impregnating perishable specimens with resins ...by utilizing the difference between the last intermedium's high vapor tension ...and the polymer's low vapor tension". This description was confirmed later as, "...a method for the impregnation of biological specimens with curable polymers . ..This method is called "plastination.", (Bickley et al.,1981). The plastination technique has since been widely recognized and used around the world for describing various preparations for teaching and research purposes (Grondin, 2004).  (continued below....)

KEY WORDS:
*CORRESPONDENCE TO:
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Article Statistics

Volume: 20
Issue: Fall
Allocation-id: 0000

Submitted Date:April 5, 2005
Accepted Date: June 23, 2005
Published Date: July 31, 2005

DOI Information:       https://doi.org/10.56507/LHOQ3865

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The Journal of Plastination (February 28, 2024) Letter to the Editor: Uses and abuses of the word "Plastination". Retrieved from https://journal.plastination.org/articles/letter_to_the_editor-_uses_and_abuses_of_the_word_plastination/.
"Letter to the Editor: Uses and abuses of the word "Plastination"." The Journal of Plastination - February 28, 2024, https://journal.plastination.org/articles/letter_to_the_editor-_uses_and_abuses_of_the_word_plastination/
The Journal of Plastination - Letter to the Editor: Uses and abuses of the word "Plastination". [Internet]. [Accessed February 28, 2024]. Available from: https://journal.plastination.org/articles/letter_to_the_editor-_uses_and_abuses_of_the_word_plastination/
"Letter to the Editor: Uses and abuses of the word "Plastination"." The Journal of Plastination [Online]. Available: https://journal.plastination.org/articles/letter_to_the_editor-_uses_and_abuses_of_the_word_plastination/. [Accessed: February 28, 2024]

INTRODUCTION

Dear Editor,

The term "plastination" appeared for the first time in scientific literature in two manuscripts published in the German journal Der Praparator in 1979 (von Hagens, 1979a; Knebel, 1979). A manuscript published in The Anatomical Record did not use the word plastination but gave a precise description of the impregnation process that is the key to the plastination technique (von Hagens, l 979b). In these papers, plastination is described as, "a new method of impregnating perishable specimens with resins ...by utilizing the difference between the last intermedium's high vapor tension ...and the polymer's low vapor tension". This description was confirmed later as, "...a method for the impregnation of biological specimens with curable polymers . ..This method is called "plastination.", (Bickley et al.,1981). The plastination technique has since been widely recognized and used around the world for describing various preparations for teaching and research purposes (Grondin, 2004).

It is generally accepted that the plastination technique involves four steps: fixation, dehydration, impregnation and curing. Even if fixation can be avoided in some specific cases, generally when one uses epoxy polymer, the remaining three steps are the constituent parts of the technique with the impregnation step being the most important of all. My research to produce and update the plastination index brought me to at least three papers in which the word "plastination" is used in an improper if not abusive manner.

The first instance occurs in a paper published in 2002 by Fickert et al.. The abstract states, "The biliary tract was studied by plastination,". The materials and methods section states, "Plastination of the Bile Duct System:. ..After hepatectomy, the bile duct system was filled with a colored methacrylate polymer mixture ...the liver was submerged in 30% potassium nitrate solution and macerated". This description is nothing more than a description of the casting of bile ducts. These casts are falsely described as plastinated specimens.

The second misuse of the word plastination occurs in the summary of a paper by Eckstein et: al. (2003). It states, "The degree of ICA diameter stenosis was determined by ex-vivo plastination of the surgically removed ...". The patients and methods section states, "The eversion specimens ...filled with a liquid acrylat, ...After the acrylat had hardened, the specimens were incisioned and removed ....We measured the minimal diameter of the surface print of the acrylic specimen." These are the acrylic casts that were measured and used for the study. We have here another example where the production of an acrylic cast is presented as plastination.

For many years, casts have been presented along with plastinated specimens as these two types of preparations represent a valuable complement to one another. Over the years, plastination polymers have been presented as good material to prepare excellent casts (Henry, 1992a; Henry 1992b; Pretorius and Geyer, 1995). Vascular casts (Graf et al., 1991, Durand 1998) or casts of cavities within plastinated specimens (Grondin et al., 2000) or in association with these (Henry et al., 1997) were also presented many times. However, in each of these articles, the casts were never presented as plastinated specimens. Additionally, the production of these anatomical casts was never called plastination of specimens.

The third incorrect use of the word plastination occurs in paper published by Ronel et al. in 2004. The abstract states, "...performing detailed anatomical dissections on 10 embalmed and plastinated cadavers." Again, when referring to the methods section we read, "Two of the arms were fresh specimens: These were injected with red silicone and then mildly plastinated". After verification with the authors to gain further insight into the so called "mild plastination", I was told that they, "arterially flushed out the two extremities, injected first with disinfecting

solution (no formalin) in the brachial artery, then some of the Corcoran Silicone (very thin viscosity/watery) with a small amount of catalyst to saturate tissue and finally casted the artery with red silicone". In this case, the arms were simply perfused with silicone until saturation. They were not dehydrated nor impregnated. Should this type of procedure be called plastination? I do not believe it should.

These are three examples of improper uses of the term plastination. Why would someone call a technique that is not plastination, plastination? Could it be that plastination  has reached a certain degree of notoriety that using it's name is being used merely to impress others? Is it possible that presenting plastination as a casting method or a perfusion method could eventually lead to the perception that the plastination technique is nothing but a banal and extremely simplistic technique? What could and should the ISP do to prevent such  improper use of the word plastination?

REFERENCES

Bickley HC, von Hagens G, Townsend FM. 1981: An improved method for the preservation of teaching specimens. Arch Pathol Lab Med 105(12):674-676.
https://doi.org/10.1093/labmed/12.11.676

Durand M. 1998: Plastination et angle ponto-cerebelleux. These de Doctorat en Medecine, Saint-Etienne, France, 110 pages.

Eckstein HH, Eichbaum M, Klemm K, Doerfler A, Ringleb P, Bruckner T, Allenberg JR. 2003: Improvement of carotid blood flow after carotid endarterectomy--evaluation using intraoperative ultrasound flow measurement. Eur J Vase Endovasc Surg 25(2): 168-174.
https://doi.org/10.1053/ejvs.2002.1820

Fickert P, Zollner G, Fuchsbichler A, Stumptner C, Weiglein AH, Lammert F, Marschall HU, Tsybrovskyy 0, Zatloukal K, Denk H, Trauner M. 2002: Ursodeoxycholic acid aggravates bile infarcts in bile duct-ligated and Mdr2 knockout mice via disruption of cholangioles. Gastroenterology 123(4): 1238-1251.
https://doi.org/10.1053/gast.2002.35948

Graf J, Fromm B, Schneider U, Niethard FU. 1991: The application of the plastination method in experimental orthopaedic surgery. J Int Soc Plastination 5(1):20-22.
https://doi.org/10.56507/RBNR4372

Grondin G. 2004: The New Plastination Index.

Grondin G, Sianothai A, Olry R. 2000: In situ ventricular casts of Sl O plastinated human brains. J Int Soc Plastination 15(1):18-21.
https://doi.org/10.56507/APKG6089

Henry RW. 1992a: Silicone tracheobronchial casts. J Int Soc Plastination 6(1):38-40 .
https://doi.org/10.56507/LOVB7516

Henry RW. 1992b: Silicone pulmonary vascular casts with attached tracheobronchial casts. J Int Soc Plastination 6(1):41-44.
https://doi.org/10.56507/MKMC2434

Henry RW, Antinoff N, Janick L, Orosz S. 1997: E12 technique: An aid to study sinuses of psittacine birds. Acta Anat 158(1):54-58.
https://doi.org/10.1159/000147911

Knebel R. 1979: Plastination eines Fisches, eines Herzens und eines Schulterblattpraparates. Der Praparator 25(2):51-56.

Pretorius WF, Geyer HJ. 1995: The use of E20 red resin for casting anatomical cavities. J Int Soc Plastination 9(1):37.
https://doi.org/10.56507/JQTR9706

Ronel ON, Mtui E, Nolan WB III. 2004: Forearm compartment syndrome: anatomical analysis of surgical approaches to the deep space. Plast Reconstr Surg 114(3):697-705.
https://doi.org/10.1097/01.PRS.0000130967.42426.23

von Hagens G. 1979a: Emulsifying resins for plastination. Plastination mit emulgierden Kunststoffen. Der Praparator 25(2):43-50.

von Hagens G. 1979b: Impregnation of Soft Biological Specimens with Thermosetting Resins and Elastomers. Anat Rec 194(2):247-255.
https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.1091940206

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