Monday, October 16, 2006

Anatomy Lab, PBL, and Block 1 Feedback Meeting

Our anatomy lab this morning was, to put it mildly, absolutely awesome. The surgeon who presented the case for us this morning was great. He gave us all his number and email and invited us to contact him if we ever wanted to come watch him do an aorta repair. He also showed us pictures of the surgeries being done. It was totally fascinating, but I have to tell you that I will be having nightmares about dissecting aortic aneurysms now for weeks. Basically what happens is that the layers of the walls of the aorta, which is the main artery coming out of the heart, separate from each other. That's the dissection. Blood is supposed to go through the center, but if the aorta dissects like that, then some of the blood goes in between the layers instead. It can make the aorta swell up (that's the aneurysm), and if it swells too much, it can actually burst. Since the aorta is such a large, important artery, if that happens to you, chances are good that you won't live long enough to make it to the hospital. Yikes.

The cadavers we saw today were really well done too. A couple of the residents and fellows who have presented the anatomy to us in the past kind of pimped us in a not so pleasant way, but the four we had today were all really nice and helpful. They still asked us questions and tested us, but they were nice about it. This was the first time where I went into the anatomy lab and felt like I actually had a clue about what was going on. I even knew the answers to several of the questions that they asked us, and that had never happened before. Two weeks ago, I knew zero anatomy, so I'm feeling a lot better about how far along I've come with learning it. I still have a long way to go with anatomy though.

We started our third PBL case today, and it revolves around a girl who gets dizzy spells. My learning objective for Wednesday is to describe chemoreceptors. Chemoreceptors are specialized cells in the blood vessels that detect levels of chemicals like carbon dioxide. I'd tell you more about them if I knew any more at the moment. Maybe tomorrow.

After PBL, I went to a meeting with the course directors from the summer block to give feedback about the strong and weak parts of the summer curriculum. They randomly pick eight students to do it after each block. I think we were able to give some useful input, but I was surprised to hear that my classmates thought the course directors should add SAQs for the summer block too. I hope that the course directors don't decide to do that. But if they do, and you come here next summer as an M1 and have to do them, for the record, I want you to know that I tried my best to talk them out of making you do it.


Anonymous said...

I was curious, if the cadavers are not preserved, wont they decompose? OR is it that the people had just died?

CCLCM Student said...

That is a very good question, and the answer is that yes, the cadavers definitely do start to decompose after a while. Our anatomy professor keeps them in the refrigerator whenever we aren't using them, which slows the decomposition. (It also makes them really, really cold when we are reaching into the chest to move the organs on top so that we can look at the ones on the bottom!) But even with refrigeration of the bodies, we are only able to use each body for a few weeks for this reason, and the residents make some new dissections for us each week on new bodies. So each week we see some of the previous week's cadavers if they aren't too decomposed yet, and we see some new ones too. We try to use each cadaver for as long as we can.

I am not sure exactly how much time passes between when the person dies and when the body is received by CCLCM. My understanding is that CCF has its own body donation program, and since the bodies aren't preserved, I think you are right that they must have recently died when we get them.