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Spraying urea solution reduces formaldehyde levels during gross anatomy courses

  • Shinichi Kawata
  • Eizo Marutani
  • Shuichi HiraiEmail author
  • Naoyuki Hatayama
  • Takuya Omotehara
  • Kenta Nagahori
  • Zhonglian Li
  • Hidenobu Miyaso
  • Philipp Pieroh
  • Munekazu Naito
  • Masahiro Itoh
Original Article
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Abstract

Formaldehyde (FA) is frequently used to embalm human cadavers that are employed to teach gross anatomy to medical and dental students. However, exposure to FA is harmful to both students and educators. The aim of this study was to reduce the FA levels in the anatomy dissection hall by spraying an FA scavenger solution. We measured the changes in FA levels after administering FA scavenger solutions to liquid, wet paper towels, organs, and cadavers containing FA. Among l-cysteine, N-ethyl urea, and urea, the latter was found to have the strongest scavenging power towards the FA in the liquid. The molar concentration of urea that most efficiently reduced the levels of volatilized FA from the wet paper towels was the same as that of the FA. After spraying the urea solution, the volatilized FA levels immediately decreased, reaching their minimum at 60 min, and remained low even after 240 min. Spraying the urea solution onto the organs reduced the levels of FA volatilized from the surfaces of organs but not those from the insides of the organs. In the dissection hall used for the gross anatomy course at Tokyo Medical University, the FA levels were significantly decreased after spraying the urea solution onto the cadavers. Moreover, dissection could be performed without the cadavers putrefying during the 4-month course. These results indicate that various institutes could use urea solution spray to effectively reduce the FA levels in the dissection hall and thus ensure the safety of students and educators.

Keywords

Urea Spraying Formaldehyde Cadaver Dissection 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by a grant-in-aid from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (no. 16K19178). In addition, the authors were granted a research grant from Tokyo Medical University in 2016. The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest associated with this work. The authors wish to thank Ms. Miyuki Kuramasu, Ms. Yuka Kobayashi, Ms. Yuki Ogawa, and Mr. Hiroaki Muro for their excellent secretarial assistance. In addition, the authors wish to thank Dr. Shogo Hayashi and Ms. Qu Ning for their excellent technical assistance.

Author contributions

Shinichi Kawata, Eizo Marutani, Shuichi Hirai, and Masahiro Itoh participated in the design of the present study. Shinichi Kawata, Shuichi Hirai, Kenta Nagahori, Takuya Omotehara, Hidenobu Miyaso, and Philipp Pieroh measured and recorded the FA levels volatilized from the cadavers. Eizo Marutani, Shuichi Hirai, and Zhonglian Li were in charge of data analysis. Shinichi Kawata, Shuichi Hirai, Naoyuki Hatayama, and Munekazu Naito prepared the first draft of the manuscript. Shinichi Kawata, Shuichi Hirai, and Masahiro Itoh composed the final version of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Funding

Grant sponsor: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; grant number: 16K19178.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Anatomists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shinichi Kawata
    • 1
  • Eizo Marutani
    • 2
  • Shuichi Hirai
    • 3
    Email author
  • Naoyuki Hatayama
    • 1
    • 3
  • Takuya Omotehara
    • 1
  • Kenta Nagahori
    • 1
  • Zhonglian Li
    • 1
  • Hidenobu Miyaso
    • 1
  • Philipp Pieroh
    • 4
    • 5
  • Munekazu Naito
    • 3
  • Masahiro Itoh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyTokyo Medical UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain MedicineMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyAichi Medical UniversityNagakuteJapan
  4. 4.Department of Orthopedics, Trauma and Plastic SurgeryUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologyMartin Luther University of Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany

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