About Plastination

Plastination is a unique technique of tissue preservation developed by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in Heidelberg, Germany in 1978. In this process, water and lipids in biological tissues are replaced by curable polymers (silicone, epoxy, polyester) which are subsequently hardened, resulting in dry, odorless and durable specimens. The class of polymer used determines the optical (transparent or opaque) and mechanical (flexible or firm) properties of the impregnated specimen.

Silicone
is used for whole specimens and thick body and organ slices to obtain a natural look.
Epoxy resins are used for thin, transparent body and organ slices.
Polyester-copolymer is exclusively used for brain slices to gain an excellent distinction of gray and white matter.

The technique consists of four main steps:

  1. Fixation
  2. Dehydration
  3. Forced Impregnation
  4. Hardening (Curing)


Fixation can be done by almost all conventional fixatives.

Dehydration is achieved mainly by acetone because acetone also serves as the intermediary solvent during impregnation.

Forced impregnation is the central step in plastination: vacuum forces the acetone out of and the polymer into the specimen.

Hardening (Curing): Finally the impregnated specimen is hardened by exposing it to a gaseous hardener (silicone), or by UVA-light and heat (polyester, epoxy). Plastinated specimens are perfect for teaching, particularly for neuroanatomy. Silicone plastinated brains are useful because they can be grasped literally and they are almost everlasting. Polyester plastination of brain slices provides an excellent distinction of gray and white matter and thus a better orientation.

Plastination is carried out in many institutions worldwide and has obtained great acceptance particularly because of the durability, the possibility for direct comparison to CT- and MR-images, and the high teaching value plastinated specimens have.

Methods of Plastination:

1. The Silicone S10 Standard Procedure
(S 10 for opaque and flexible specimens)

2. The COR-TECH - Room Temperature Procedure

3. The Epoxy E 12 Procedure
(E 12 for thin, transparent, and firm body and organ slices)

4. The Polyester P35/P40 Procedure
(P 35/P 40 for semitransparent and firm brain slices )