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‘Bones of Contention’. The donation of temporal bones for dissection after the organ-retention scandals

  • D. P. Morris (a1), E. W. Benbow (a2) and R. T. Ramsden (a1)


It is essential for the Otologist in training to become familiar with the anatomy of the temporal bone. Generations of trainees have acquired this knowledge, together with basic surgical skills and techniques by dissection of cadaver temporal bones. In recent years, however, the supply of temporal bones for dissection has become a contentious issue in many British hospitals. Media and public attention has recently focused on issues surrounding the retention of human tissues following post-mortem examinations. In response, the Chief Medical Officer, the Royal College of Pathologists in the UK, the Faculty of Pathology of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, the British Medical Association, and other bodies have issued new guidelines that are of relevance to the Otolaryngologist. This paper gives details of some of the UK guidelines and where they can be accessed. A copy of the Royal College of Pathologists preferred post-mortem consent form is presented. The authors’ experience in Manchester is discussed and details of an information leaflet on the subject of temporal bone donation are given. It is concluded that, with knowledge of the existing guidelines and good communication with other hospital colleagues, as well as families of the deceased, it is still possible legally to obtain temporal bones for dissection.


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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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