The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain

We all have one. You might think some don’t, but we do. It helps you balance, see, process ideas, remember song lyrics, hear, recognise people and places, sleep and just about everything you do. Only a handful of reactions and functions, for example reflexes, are not controlled by your brain. Yet the brain, to me, is the easiest organ of them all to remove from a person. Apart from the pesky skull, the brain is kind of floating about with not that many connections. This week I took my first brain out and that was incredibly awesome.

As part of a post mortem the brain is examined. This could be for a number of reasons, but mainly I’ve seen the pathologist look for injury or bleeds. A brain with a bleed is often quite obvious from the moment the skull is opened as far as I’ve seen so far.

The skull is cut with an oscillating saw which is often called a bone saw or autopsy saw. It blows my mind that it can cut through bone and solid things like plaster casts but it couldn’t cut your skin or even the glove on your hand. I’ve tried to read about how this works with not much luck I’ll add! More about the saws we use here. With quite a wide section of the skull removed, mostly the top of the head, the layer between the brain and the skull can be seen. This is known as the dura and is a thickish membrane which surrounds your brain. Sometimes this can be stuck to the section of the skull removed and this needs to be peeled off in order to ascertain if there are any skull fractures. If not, the dura can be removed from the area opened to reveal the brain.

The brain is removed quite simply by scooping it out from the front and detaching it from the optic nerves, the membranes attaching it to the base of the skull and the spinal cord. In its entirety, the brain weight can be very different between people but tends to be the same colour and shape. Holding one in your hands is a very humbling experience is all I can say. Oh and they’re not bright pink like you see on tv a lot of the time, they tend to range between a grey colour and a weird shade of beige.

Hopefully with time I will learn more and more about this to share, for now my knowledge is quite limited. I started today learning more about being able to recognise certain parts for post mortem and how to tell if certain injuries or problems are present with my Manager which was brilliant.

A final note to say the HTA inspection I wrote about on Tuesday and that happened this week went very well. I felt like I discovered a lot more about what they were looking for and why. I wasn’t too fearful of them because they were very friendly and I certainly feel less afraid of any inspections going forward!

Have a great weekend and thanks, as always, for taking the time to read.

MG x

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