Big question indeed; I think morbiddesires helped answer it for me:
We analyze based on so many things: cause of death, date of death, medications, discolorations, IVs, dehydration, edema, emaciation, height/weight, and on and on…
I deal mainly with the aftermath of death; I’m not around when people are being autopsied, if there’s a cause for that. I’m getting them ready to be viewed by their families — and before anyone says ew, gross, please remember this: morticians (embalmers, if you prefer) provide closure. We provide families to see their loved one one last time before they’re buried, and it’s a sort of closure, for most.
Wikipedia helps me explain without going into a lot of detail I usually end up trailing off about.. :D
The actual embalming process usually involves four parts:
1. Arterial embalming, which involves the injection of embalming chemicals into the blood vessels, usually via the right common carotid artery. Blood and interstitial fluids are displaced by this injection and, along with excess arterial solution, are expelled from the right jugular vein and collectively referred to as drainage. The embalming solution is injected with a centrifugal pump and the embalmer massages the body to break up circulatory clots as to ensure the proper distribution of the embalming fluid. This process of raising vessels with injection and drainage from a solitary location is known as a single-point injection. In cases of poor circulation of the arterial solution additional injection points (commonly the axillary, brachial or femoral arteries, with the ulnar, radial and tibial vessels if necessary) are used. The corresponding veins are commonly also raised and utilized for the purpose of drainage. Cases where more than one vessel is raised are referred to as multiple-point injection, with a reference to the number of vessels raised (i.e. a six-point injection or six-pointer). As a general rule, the more points needing to be raised, the greater the difficulty of the case. An injection utilizing both the left and right carotids is specifically referred to as a restricted cervical injection (RCI), while draining from a different site to injection (i.e. injecting arterial fluid into the right common carotid artery and draining from the right femoral vein) is referred to as a split (or sometimes cut)injection.
2. Cavity embalming refers to the replacement of internal fluids inside body cavities with embalming chemicals via the use of an aspirator and trocar. The embalmer makes a small incision just above the navel (two inches superior and two inches to the right) and pushes the trocar in the chest and stomach cavities to puncture the hollow organs and aspirate their contents. He then fills the cavities with concentrated chemicals that contain formaldehyde. The incision is either sutured closed or a “trocar button” is secured into place.
3. Hypodermic embalming is a supplemental method which refers to the injection of embalming chemicals into tissue with a hypodermic needle and syringe, which is generally used as needed on a case by case basis to treat areas where arterial fluid has not been successfully distributed during the main arterial injection.
4. Surface embalming, another supplemental method, utilises embalming chemical to preserve and restore areas directly on the skins surface and other superficial areas as well as areas of damage such as from accident, decomposition, cancerous growth or skin donation.
A typical embalming takes several hours to complete. An embalming case that requires more attention or has unexpected complications could take substantially longer. The repair of an autopsy case or the restoration of a long-bone donor are two such examples.
Of course, like morbiddesires said, all this has to be predicated on the condition of the body, what trauma it’s been through — someone who has been dead two weeks is a bit more work than someone who died last night. Suicides are a touch more difficult, as are car accident victims. Wiki, again: The restoration of bodies and features damaged by accident or disease is commonly called restorative art or demisurgery and all qualified embalmers have some degree of training and practice in it. For such cases, the benefit of embalming is startlingly apparent. In contrast though, many people have unreasonable expectations of what a dead body should look like, due to the unrealistic portrayal of “dead” bodies (usually by live actors) in movies and television shows. Viewers generally have an unrealistic expectation that a body going through decomposition should look as it did before death.
There are different methods for embalming autposy cases too, since the nature of the post-mortem examination irrevocably disrupts the circulatory system, due to the removal of the organs and viscera. Of course, there’s also the practice of embalming for anatomy education, and then you dive into religious practices..
I made this really long, and I’m sorry! I really hope this helped your follower! I’m not sure if they were asking from a coroner’s view, or an embalmer’s.. and either way, followers of Mariana, death is nothing to fear, or be grossed out by!
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