Exploring effectiveness in brain removal techniques: A comparison of approaches

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Anatomical sciences education




anatomy education; brain removal; dissection; effective methods; neuroanatomy


Brain dissection is typically an important part of teaching neuroscience in health professional programs. This results in the need to effectively remove brains, which is often performed in a gross anatomy laboratory in the same curriculum. The aim of this study was to determine the most effective method of brain removal based on the time required for removal, difficulty of removal, and preservation of key brain structures for educational purposes. Six different dissectors performed each of the three calvaria removal approaches and three different spinal cord transection methods rating them for difficulty and tracking the time required. The combination of calvaria and brainstem approaches and the order of completion was randomized to control for fatigue and previous individual experience. After all brains were removed, each was evaluated by neuroscience faculty for utility in education contexts. The study found little difference between the individual approaches for both calvaria removal and spinal cord transection in regards to quality of outcome. The use of a circumferential cut only proved to be the most time-effective method for calvaria removal while a posterior cut between C1 and C2 was the most time-effective and least difficult method for brainstem release. There was no one technique that proved to be most beneficial across all three measures. However, different approaches resulted in a different combination of benefits across the time, difficulty, and outcome ratings that should be considered in light of the individual needs of any program or researcher.


Anatomy and Regenerative Biology