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Preservation of cranial nerves during removal of the brain for an enhanced student experience in neuroanatomy classes

Authors

  • Jennifer Long,

    1. Section of Pathology, Anatomy and Tumour Biology, Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, Worsley Building, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
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  • David J.H. Roberts,

    1. Section of Pathology, Anatomy and Tumour Biology, Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, Worsley Building, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
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  • James D. Pickering

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Pathology, Anatomy and Tumour Biology, Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, Worsley Building, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
    • Correspondence to: Dr. James Pickering, Section of Pathology, Anatomy and Tumour Biology, Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, Worsley Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK. E-mail: j.d.pickering@leeds.ac.uk

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Abstract

Neuroanatomy teaching at the University of Leeds includes the examination of isolated brains by students working in small groups. This requires the prosected brains to exhibit all 12 pairs of cranial nerves. Traditional methods of removing the brain from the skull involve elevating the frontal lobes and cutting each cranial nerve as the brain is reflected posteriorly. This can leave a substantial length of each nerve attached to the skull base rather than to the removed brain. We have found a posterior approach more successful. In this study, five adult heads were disarticulated at the level of the thyroid cartilage and placed, prone, in a head stand. A wedge of bone from the occipital region was removed before the cerebellum and brainstem were elevated to visualize the cranial nerves associated with the medulla oblongata, cerebellopontine angle and mesencephalic-pontine junction prior to cutting them as close to the skull as possible. Five brains were successfully removed from the skull, each having a full complement of cranial nerves of good length attached to them. This approach significantly increases the length and number of cranial nerves remaining attached to the brain, which supports student education. For integration into head and neck dissection courses, careful consideration will be required to ensure the necks are suitably dissected and to decide whether the cranial nerves are best left attached to the skull base or brain. Clin. Anat. 27:20–24, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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