Within the framework of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, cadavers have been used to teach anatomy by dissection or by using prosected specimens. To accomplish this, an appropriated preservation process must guarantee that the cadaver is kept safe for harm, destruction, and decomposition. Embalming fluid contains fixatives, disinfectants, surfactants, buffers, salt, and water, making the cadaver safe for teaching anatomy. However, it remains unclear if there is any risk of dissemination of microorganisms during anatomy teaching, research, and dissection procedures on fixed cadavers. The purpose of this study is to identify bacterial and fungal species in fixed cadaveric material used in anatomy teaching. Samples of cadavers and anatomical sections were cultured and biochemical tests and molecular identification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were performed to identify the microorganisms. The results indicate that fixed cadaveric material has viable bacteria on its surfaces and almost all these correspond to gram-negative bacilli of the Enterobacteriaceae family. In conclusion, fixed cadavers could be a reservoir of bacteria. This study underscores the importance of generating safe manipulation protocols to avoid eventual contamination and disease.
KEY WORDS: Bacteria; Cadavers; Dissection; Embalming; Medical education.