Diaphanization: A Standardized Protocol for Non-Fetal Tissue Preservation

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Roberto Javier Rueda-Esteban; Juliana Palacio Varona; Juan Sebastián López-McCormick & Juan David Hernández Restrepo


In response to the arising difficulty of dissection use during anatomy courses, medical schools have been forced to research alternative teaching methods. These are meant to help students develop three dimensional mental images of the human body and increase spatial reasoning, thus improving the learning process of human morphology. One of those methods, used at the Universidad de los Andes is the Diaphanization process. This technique is a well-known method for specimen preservation, used as an anatomy research and teaching tool. Even though it is frequently used, finding a standardized protocol in indexed journals is not possible, which hinders the use of the technique. The standardization of an updated protocol is a need in order to continue exploiting the maximum educational capacity of the specimens used during classwork. The process used at the Universidad de los Andes for non-fetal tissue preservation by Diaphanization is described, with a detailed explanation of its five main stages: Injection, Fixation, Dehydration, Bleaching (or Maceration) and Final preservation. The final result should be an organ preserved in an acrylic box which allows clear three dimensional visualization of anatomical structures that can be used for the study and description of general anatomy and vascular structure. It also helps with spatial reasoning and represents little to no biological risk, leading to a new level of anatomical teaching and experimenting. Several specimens obtained at our laboratory through this technique are presented.

KEY WORDS: Teaching of anatomy; Diaphanization; Preservation of Adult Tissue; Standardized protocol.

How to cite this article

RUEDA-ESTEBAN, R. J.; PALACIO, J. V.; LÓPEZ-MCCORMICK, J. & HERNÁNDEZ, J. D. R. Diaphanization: a standardized protocol for non-fetal tissue preservation. Int. J. Morphol., 35(2):547-551, 2017.