Anatomy: A Beautiful Disaster?

The most memorable anatomy moment?  Definitely the exploding rectum episode.

My labmates and I were finishing up the abdomen. The beginning and ends of the intestines were tied off, but not tight enough. After we cut out the intestines, we realized (and smelled) our boo-boo: the rectum was not completely tied off.  Needless to say, the contents exploded when we proceeded to open the pelvic region. To supplement the horror, our cadaver had a larger-than-normal rectum. His feces were not even solid; they were “fresh,” soft, and rather stinging to the nose. All I thought was, “Did he go to the bathroom at all?” While the four of us could only cry from the putrid smell and “Uhhhhghhhh” around the table, our brave TA of the day, Stephanie, dared to whip out her scalpel and battle the messy rectum. Boy did she emerge victorious and scathed after nearly an hour: the greenish-brown oils and stains, all down her white coat, sleeves, and gloves. By victory, she removed the rectum and ruined some tissues and vessels nearby.

The rest of us were useless, grimacing spectators. The most we could offer to do was wipe away the mushy mess and dump water to dilute and mop up the wreckage. The rest of the time in lab, we continued watering down and staining more paper towels. I swear the smell followed me for a good week after that encounter, but none of us had it as badly as our heroic TA. Well, we promised to give her a very positive evaluation for Dr. Stern =)

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