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A prosector is a person with the special task of preparing a dissection for demonstration, usually in medical schools or hospitals. Many important anatomists began their careers as prosectors working for lecturers and demonstrators in anatomy and pathology.
Prosectors for autopsies of diseased cadavers may run a high risk of suffering from health problems when caution is not taken. At least two diseases are named after prosectors:
Contracting infections caused by contaminated cadavers is a constant danger among prosectors, particularly if a skin puncture accident results from the sharp surgical instruments used in this kind of work (about 70% of pathology workers report having at least one percutaneous incident). In this case, thin surgical gloves are not enough to protect. There are many cases of pathologists who died of acute septicemia (blood poisoning) because of this. Another example, a famous historical case, is that of Dr. Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, an Austrian physician, pathologist and physiologist, who infected his finger during an autopsy and became dependent on morphine, due to the pain; and, later, on cocaine, by instigation of his friend, Sigmund Freud.
Presently, AIDS presents a problem. Although it is difficult to contract it by a single puncture incident (the overall personal risk has been estimated to be 0.11% ), at least one case has been reported  among pathologists.
The continuous respiratory exposure to formaldehyde, used to preserve cadavers, is also an occupational risk of prosectors as well as medical students, anatomists and pathologists. Inhaled formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes, resulting in watery eyes, headache, a burning sensation in the throat, and difficulty breathing. Formaldehyde is listed as a potential human carcinogen.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Prosector". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|