The Cadaver Conundrum: Sourcing and Anatomical Embalming of Human Dead Bodies by Medical Schools during and after COVID-19 Pandemic: Review and Recommendations

SN Compr Clin Med. 2021 Mar 1;1-13. doi: 10.1007/s42399-021-00778-7. Online ahead of print.


COVID-19 pandemic has posed a new challenge for medical schools across the world regarding the acceptance of donated and unclaimed dead bodies for academic purpose. Uncertainty of the COVID-19 status among the donated bodies poses a health risk for embalming personnel and medical students who handle the embalmed cadavers. There is a paucity of literature delineating the criteria for accepting or rejecting the bodies during COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, there is no recommended standard operating procedure for anatomical embalming during COVID-19. We propose certain criteria for accepting and rejecting the human dead bodies for anatomical embalming. And we propose some technical modifications to the conventional procedure of formalin-based anatomical embalming. A guarded approach and diligent screening of donated bodies is the way forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Body donation program; COVID-19 pandemic; Cadaver; Embalming; Medical education.

Publication types

  • Review