The Journal of Plastination

Published in J. Int. Soc. Plast. 11 (1):31-32 (1996)

Plastination: Technical Advice in the Phase of Forced Impregnation

Ripani, M. , and Di Filippo, A.

Department of Human Anatomy (Tit. Prof. G. Marinozzi), State University of Rome "LA SAPIENZA", Rome, Italy.


The Plastination laboratory at the Institute Human Anatomy of State University of Rome "La Sapienza" has developed a technical device which can be used during the phase of forced impregnation at room temperature. The device is very useful to the technique of plastination at room temperature. Thanks to this device, the mechanical structures involved in the phase of forced impregnation do not show morphological alteration of specimens.


Forced Impregnation, Silicone, Vacuum pump, Room temperature


Rippani M. Department of Human Anatomy (Tit. Prof. G. Marinozzi), State University of Rome "LA SAPIENZA", Rome, Italy.

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Article Statistics

Volume: 11
Issue: 1
Allocation-id: 0000

Submitted Date:June 12, 1996
Accepted Date: July 25, 1996
Published Date: December 30, 1996

DOI Information:


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The Journal of Plastination (July 14, 2024) Plastination: Technical Advice in the Phase of Forced Impregnation. Retrieved from
"Plastination: Technical Advice in the Phase of Forced Impregnation." The Journal of Plastination - July 14, 2024,
The Journal of Plastination - Plastination: Technical Advice in the Phase of Forced Impregnation. [Internet]. [Accessed July 14, 2024]. Available from:
"Plastination: Technical Advice in the Phase of Forced Impregnation." The Journal of Plastination [Online]. Available: [Accessed: July 14, 2024]


A special technique of preservation of biologic specimens called plastination has been used over several years at the Institute of Human Anatomy of the University "La Sapienza" of Rome.

This technique, discovered by Prof. Gunther von Hagens, consists of four phases: fixation, dehydration, forced impregnation and curing.

Figure 1- Scheme of system in the phase of forced impregnation.

The stages of fixation and cure are always done at room temperature, while dehydration is at either room temperature using ethyl alcohol, or by freezing specimens (at -20°C), using acetone (dehydration freeze substitution with acetone). Forced impregnation, a technique at room temperature was used. Although subjected to the following technical problem: when acetone obtained from the anatomical specimens set in a vacuum-room (fig. l) reaches the lift pump and mixes with lubricating oil, changes its physical characteristics, causing structural damages to the mechanical elements of the pump. We eliminated the problem by means of a simple technical device called LIQUIFIED NITROGEN TRAP described as follows.

Figure 2- Vacuum-pump and Liquified Nitrogen Trap.
The outside of double exit glass link is visible.

Figure 3- Inside the Liquified Nitrogen Trap. Note the graduated beuta and the double exit glass link


Materials used: Thermically isolated cylindrical pierced lid (h=20cm; d=15cm). Thermically isolated cylindrical cover, abridgment (h=3cm; d=15cm). Graduated beuta (h=18cm;ability=500ml; base diameter=10cm).  Double exit glass link. Rubber, elastic muff, liquefied nitrogen.



We interrupted the hydraulic circuit between the vacuum and the lift pump by interposing a double exit glass link, connected to a graduated beuta and a plastic muff, ensuring a perfect seal between the two faces.

Liquified nitrogen was poured into the thermically isolated cylindrical container filling two thirds of the container. The beuta, now inserted in the circuit, was placed in the thermic container. The latter was closed by a pierced lid then thermically isolated (the hole allows the linkage between the beuta and the hydraulic circuit).

This system permits keeping only the graduated beuta in the small refrigerated cell. After about twenty-four hours the liquified nitrogen must be changed.


The device, made up of the glass link and the graduated beuta, and connected in series to the circuit, was stored in the refrigerated cell; the acetone, drawn out of the vacuum chamber by the low (below the earth's atmosphere) pressure created by the pump, is brought into the beuta, then into an isolated system, whose inside temperature is noticeably lower than the surrounding temperature.

This process doesn't prevent the pump from continuing to create the negative pressure in the vacuum chamber, due to the presence of the double exit link.


The main advantage from using this technique lies in the possi- bility to that the process of forced impregnation at room tem- perature does not damage the pump. A further advantage is the possibility of withdrawing and measuring the acetone obtained from the plastinated specimens whenever the liquified nitrogen is replaced. The forced impregnation procedure can be completely controlled.



von Hagens G.; Tiedeman K.; Kriz W, "The current potential of plastination". ANAT. EMBRYOL. 175:411-421, 1987.

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