My Thoughts After a Week of Human Dissection

My Thoughts After a Week of Human Dissection

My Thoughts After a Week of Human Dissection

**Disclaimer – these are my thoughts and may not be 100% accurate.  I have gone behind myself to research things to make sure I remembered them correctly but I still can claim that I got everything right. You are welcome to point out my mistakes.


I was to stunned most of the week during our Human Dissection lab to even contemplate taking notes.  On Thursday, finally, my brain snapped to attention and at lunch I started to jot down some of the concepts we were learning, seeing and which needed further exploration.  Here they are.  Just a jumble of my thoughts with a little bit of after the fact perspective thrown in.


Synovial fluid is not in a sack but is held inside the joint capsule.  When I got down to the hip joint and went to pull the femur out of the hip socket there was this really loud sucking sound.  That was the synovial fluid which creates a lubricating barrier but also the required pressure to hold everything together.  The synovial fluid is the pinkish, viscous fluid about the consistency of motor oil.  AND, it isn’t in a sack like I thought.  Don’t ask me where I got that idea from.  But there it is.


Marc tore through layers of muscle and connective tissue in his leg. Looking at the quad and quad tendon made me realize exactly what Marc tore through when he injured himself under that 1205 squat.  Obviously, that is a lot of weight but he ripped through some really dense and strong stuff.  He has always said that people heard the “Rip” when it happened and I can now understand why.

The mesentery is an organ. So what is the mesentery? It’s a double fold of peritoneum – the lining of the abdominal cavity – that attaches our intestine to the wall of our abdomen, and keeps everything locked in place. And it looks like some sort of jellyfish out of the ocean.  It is much bigger than you expect and its like this baggy covering with a thin film connecting it to everything.

The pancreas is more like a gland than an organ. My mom had diabetes so I wanted to make sure I saw the pancreas so I could start to understand it more. I expected to see a solid structure like the kidney but it was flat like a deflated balloon and not very impressive. It is only the “Pancreas” when fluid is flowing in and out.  That was weird.

We dissected the kidney and saw/felt it’s parts.  The kidney looks exactly like the textbooks show you.  It is one of the few things that pretty much looks exactly like you think it will, except bigger than I thought.  We bisected it and the inside also looks very much like what you would expect.

We dissected the liver and saw the hepatic vein that shuttles shit to the liver.  The liver, like the kidney, is also a very solid organ.  Most the other organs are slippery, kind of baggy and don’t really have a shape but the liver was very solid.  We saw a liver that had cancer and we saw healthy livers and they were pretty much just what you would expect.

We saw a knee replacement.   Okay, we have all seen the video that shows how they do knee replacements.  We all have a good concrete idea of what they do. However, when you see one it is still rather mind blowing.  We compared the replacement to a normal healthy knee and it was just so cool to see the “replica” that looked so much like the original. Cool fact, the titanium or whatever they make the knee out of stays super shiny and glossy in your body. I figured it would get covered in stuff but NOPE still super shiny.

Corpus adiposum colli.  This was new to me.  Corpus adiposum means “fat-pad”.  This particular fat-pad is in the hollow area on top of your collar bone.  If you push on it you will probably flinch because it can get very tender there.  This is one of the areas we work on with Be Activated because you can get so bound up when you have a super tight neck.  It was cool to see that it is just like a button of fat.

Omohyoid.  The omohyoid is super cool little muscle.  It is the only muscle in your body that has two distinct muscle bellies.  It runs from around your jaw down to your clavicle.  Its function is to provide a “tent” around the carotid artery so that in times of muscular stress the muscles don’t tighten down and restrict blood flow. That’s pretty cool. If you didn’t have this tiny little muscle every deadlift would constrict your carotid artery and you would fall out.  Our little old lady had a tiny one, but I would love to see a big deadlifters to see the difference in development.

Fun Fact: When you hang upside down you don’t get any more blood flow to your head because all blood flow is regulated each way. You do let your organs hang in a different position which is helpful.

Deep rotators of the hip.  I don’t have the space to write to much about this but we saw and learned about all the deep rotators of the hip when we were looking to see the piriformis.  There are actually four little muscles all together right there that have different functions.  The one of most interest at the time was that Obturator Internus (which I can’t remember and call the Obdurator Insideum).  This muscle is what puts the breaks on when you bend at the waist and push your hips back.  It is what snaps you up from that position.  Basically, it is your good morning or KB swing muscle.  It might have also been referred to as the muscle that “helps create us”….think hip thrust.

The concept of the soul is something we all know.  I have always like that idea of body and soul.  But Tom Meyers used this term: the animating spirit.  I like that better than soul.

The fascia in the lower leg and forearm is a compression “sock” that forces blood back to the heart.  Think about it.  You would not believe how strong that fascia is.

Edema is “bound” water (I called it structured water) versus water that you can excrete which is un-bound or unstructured water.  This BLEW my mind.  I have always heard that if you have edema you just need to drink more water and flush it away.  In my mind it was just water hanging out in your body and you just had to get rid of it.  But edema is actually weirder than that.  Edema is water that is bound in your tissue.  It kind of creates a jello-like substance in the body.  It can hold its own.   It made me think of an old X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully were in Florida during a hurricane and a “water monster” came up through the water pipes and grabbed people.  So edema = scary X-files water monster.

The brain is less than jelly when taken out of its sack. Yup! Strange stuff folks the brain was nothing like the hard plastic structure you see on tv autopsies.  Once we cut it out and put it in a container it lost all of its shape and just looked like a bunch of pink snot.

I saw a blood clot in the aortic artery, two actually. In one the clot had pushed out into the softness of the vessel in the other it had created a small pocket in the calcium deposit.  Both clots had long strings of “clot” hanging from them flowing up the artery.  The clots were bright red, about the size of a dime, squishy and yet solid.  I never understood how clotted blood could cause as much damage as it does but after seeing it I understand.  More cool stuff.

Atherosclerosis is cool but bad, bad, bad.  Claudia’s arteries were all coated in a layer of calcium that reminded me of seashells.  She had a large disc about the size of a quarter right at the junction of her heart and her artery. The tissue had covered it up so you could feel it under the tissue but you couldn’t see it.  You could see the spiny protrusion that had grown out of it. This calcium growth could have broken off at any time and caused severe damage and it was just hanging out there right by her heart.

The trachea is a bunch of cartilage rings to keep it touch so it doesn’t collapse. But it is “open” on the back and has no cartilage to allow for the esophagus.  It reminded me of those conch shell eggs you find at the beach. It might be the coolest structure.

The lungs.
Squeezing on the lung tissue you can hear and feel little popping noises as air escapes the alveoli. It really is light and spongy but without definitive areas. Just one big mass.  Well, three big masses because there are three lobes.  The teacher used a straw to show how the lungs inflate and deflate.  We had the cadaver in a sitting position so that we could see the lungs in action.  It. Was. So. Cool.

Bones have a viscous liquid inside them. I bisected a rib and later another table bisected a femur.  The inside of the bone has several parts.  One part is a fluid much like synovial fluid, I wasn’t expecting that.

The temporalis is much meatier than I expected. The skull divots in behind the eye and over the cheek bone and the temporalis fills that in and the masseter sits on top.  On the last day I did an experiment to see if Claudia’s masseter muscles were the same size.  As I had surmised they were not.  But while looking at them I thought I might dissect out the Temporalis and was so surprised to see how meaty it is.  I remember as a kid being told not to push on the temple to hard or you would push into the brain.  Well, that isn’t true (duh) and much of the reason is the temporalis muscle.  I bet Marc has a HUGE temporalis.

Retinaculum of the feet and hands.  I now know why my ankles and wrists hurt sometimes.  Those damn retinaculum.  A retinaculum refers to any region on the body in which tendon groups from different muscles pass under one connective tissue band. Wrist retinacula include the flexor and the extensor retinacula of the hand.  They give you stability and I assume can get as gummy and stuck as all the other connective tissue.  So continue to do your ankle circles and wrist circles every day!!!!


And that is all of my notes.  We learned so much more but processing it will take time.  Until then, I hope you enjoy this bit of brain candy.  If you have any questions just shoot me an email at


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