Embalming : Reviewing Purpose and Procedures

Part Three
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This is "Part Three" of the required text for this course. After reading this section proceed to the "Examination".

9). Post Embalming Care


Before the body is cleansed after the embalming operation is complete, it should be checked to see if there are any areas that did not receive an adequate amount of the embalming fluid solution during the arterial injection process. These areas can usually be determined by visual observation and/or touch. If there has not been a noticeable color change or firming of the tissue texture when compared to other parts of the body that have obviously went under some degree of transformation during the arterial injection process, it may require additional treatment If an area is observed there are basically two ways to compensate this.

One option is to hypodermically inject a solution of the embalming chemicals directly into the deficient area. This procedure is done using a disposable syringe and needle. Areas that this may be an effective technique could be feet, palms of hands, nail beds of the fingers and the groin region. This technique should always be performed before the final bathing of the body. This is because there will probably be a slight leak at the point that hypodermic needle is inserted into the tissue. Giving this process a few seconds to drain before washing generally eliminates additional clean up after the cleansing of the body.   

After such procedures have been determined necessary and performed, the body should then be thoroughly bathed externally with a disinfecting soap. This removes other forms of contamination that may have become present on the deceased human remains during the embalming operation. It is necessary to roll or prop the remains adequately so as to wash all of the under surfaces of the body completely. Once this process is complete the body should be dried off with a towel.        

In addition to the previously mentioned treatments, it may be necessary to treat areas of the body receiving poor circulation with an external topical treatment. These treatments typically are in the form of a formaldehyde base gel that can be rubbed into the deficient tissue area. Once this has been completed the body should be covered with a disposable sheet and left until the time that it is dressed, cosmetized and prepared for the scheduled funeralization and/or memorialization events. Over the next few hours this gel preservative will slowly penetrate the skin tissue to cause preservation of the issue.

When it is time to prepare the body for memorialization, the residue of this topical preservative gel should be wiped off and that area should be thoroughly cleansed. 


10). Advice for Special Cases


Autopsy Cases 

When it is necessary to embalm cases that have underwent an autopsy or some form of post mortem dissection, there will be more than one vessel to raise and inject to achieve optimal results. There is usually a “Y” shaped incision extending over the abdominal and thoracic regions. This will require more suturing after the arterial injection is completed.

On most autopsy cases, both carotid arteries, both sub clavicle arteries and both iliac or femoral arteries should be injected from within the open autopsy cavity. If the viscera (the abdominal and thoracic organ content) are returned with the body they should be treated my the direct induction of cavity fluid. 


Infants and Children

Infants can be embalmed much like adult human bodies only on a smaller scale. The arteries and veins are going to be much smaller, therefore smaller arterial tubes and smaller amounts of arterial embalming fluid solutions will be used in the total embalming operation.

In the case of premature babies or partially formed babies it may only be possible to pack the child with a thick layer of preservative gel like described in section # 9 over the entire surface of the skin. The child should be left in this condition (usually placed inside a pouch or covered in plastic) overnight to allow the gel pack to penetrate the skin tissue and thus effect some form of temporary preservation.

It is also advisable to treat the abdominal and thoracic regions just as you would and adult case, again only using a smaller trocar and lesser amounts of cavity fluid. This treatment will also help in the embalming treatment of the entire infant’s body through the cellular processes of osmosis and diffusion.           


Decomposed Cases

If a body has been deceased for extended periods of time prior to embalming it may be in a state of severe decomposition. In these cases where there is massive amount of skin slippage and the body is swollen from its natural shape and contour it may be impossible to raise arteries for injection. In some of these cases, it may be possible to raise an artery only to find that it is completely blocked with coagulated blood.

Often it is necessary to simply place the body in a heavy sealable pouch. Treat the abdominal and thoracic regions through the technique of aspiration and injection of cavity fluid as previously described in section # 8.

The entire surface of the body should also be covered with a formaldehyde base gel and a generous amount of preservative embalming powder. Most embalming chemical manufacturers make products designed specifically for use in these types of cases. In addition it might be advisable to hypodermically inject undiluted arterial fluid at various points throughout the entire body.  

When this procedure has been completed it may be advisable to place the sealed pouched in a gasketed steel or fiberglass casket as soon as possible. This should help in eliminating and keeping potential odors at a minimum during the memorialization process.  


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