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The Art of Human Dissection

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Forensic Pathology: The Art of Human Dissection
Sean J. Ainsworth
University of Maryland University College

Forensic Pathology: The Art of Human Dissection
Criminal investigators gather information, evidence and intelligence regarding criminal offenses to accurately provide justice. With this in mind, what happens when factors are present outside their control? For example, a deceased body is discovered with absolutely no evidence or investigative leads. This is a task not for the criminal investigator, but for a Forensic Pathologist. Forensic Pathology is the study, dissection and examination of deceased bodies; furthermore, is arguably the most challenging and difficult occupation within criminal investigations. Forensic Pathologist are the last line of support when determining cause of death, with this in mind, extensive training, education and experience is required to fulfill the most gut-wrenching unattractive occupation.
By definition, Forensic Pathology is the determination of the cause of death by examining a corpse. With this in mind, Forensic Pathologist dissect corpses, examine, remove and obtain samples of organs to determine how that individual died. Also, Forensic Pathologists expose photographs of the deceased body, obtain fingerprints, weigh each organ and document such findings in an investigation of their own. Forensic Pathologist even go as far as determining how close the individual was shot, the position of the weapon, direction the bullets entered the body and what order the bullets were fired (Engeler 1997). Besides the unbearable stench, presence of fecal matter, dissection and manipulation of organs, Forensic Pathologist serve an imperative role in providing answers not only for criminal investigators, but for the families of the deceased.
With such a rigorous and grim profession, the training requirements are a life-time commitment. The completion of up to six years of college education, specifically medical school and another five years of natural diseases study to become certified as a typical hospital pathologist. In addition, a Forensic Pathologist has to complete at least another year in the study of gunshot wounds and trauma (Reference 1). All of this extensive education is required for a profession involving such a level of importance and skill. With an impact of such magnitude, no one can argue the length of training required for this type of profession. For example, “Having untrained people work on the dead makes for spectacular mistakes, allowing countless killers to go free without so much as a police questioning (Engeler 1997). With that being said, Forensic Pathologists are one of the most qualified and educated experts within their field.
The Art of Forensic Pathology is more than just taking a crowbar to the stomach, shoveling organs out of the crater and tossing them onto a scale. It’s the meticulous examination of each part of the human body to determine any unnoticed factors that lead to the cause of death. As previously mentioned, Forensic Pathologists are exceptionally education and qualified for a specific reason. If a single error or detail was left unexamined, then the entire case could either be potentially acquitted or the actual suspect could be exonerated. According to Galtes, Rodriguez, Subirana, Barberia, Castella and Medallo (2012) the typical instruments of a Forensic Pathologist include the following: Oscillating saw (Skull removal), postmortem hammer and chisel (Rib Cage), scalpel, toothed forceps, ordinary curved scissors and flat end tweezers. All of the aforementioned instruments are utilized carefully and diligently. The deceased body cannot be barbarically forced open with meek tools; moreover, the emphasis on the attention to detail and the steady hand with the proper instruments is detrimental for accurate results.
Receiving the notification of a homicide or unknown deceased body not only effects the criminal investigator, but has a colossal impact on the family of the departed. Determined for answers, criminal investigators are limited to the obvious details and facts from routine police work. In summary, the solutions rely inside the body and it’s the role of the Forensic Pathologist to investigate the deceased for the golden answer; the cause of death. Through an immense amount of training and certification, the Forensic Pathologist plays a vital role for the worst of criminal offenses.

Engeler, A. (1997). You won't believe what her job is. Redbook, 188(6), 116
Galtés, I., Rodríguez-Baeza, A., Subirana, M., Barbería, E., Castellà, J., & Medallo, J. (2012). A Proposed Dissection Procedure for Vertebral Arteries in Forensic Pathology . Journal Of Forensic Sciences (Wiley-Blackwell), 57(1), 212-214. doi:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01904.x…...

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