These pages document the various pathologies and other interesting findings of cadavers in the anatomy lab. This database was created by Dr. Mike Pascoe, a co-instructor of the PT/PA, MD, and DDS gross anatomy labs. Please contact Dr. Pascoe if you find something interesting on your cadaver that you would like explained on these pages.

Head & Neck
Upper Extremity
Abdomen & Pelvis
Lower Extremity


A cadaver is a dead human body intended for dissection. To extend the period of time a cadaver can be dissected, tissue decay is prevented by injection of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde kills bacteria as well as denatures proteins that bacteria feed on. Although formaldehyde is classified as a carcinagen, exposure in the lab is mitigated through down-draft tables that were installed in the lab in the spring of 2012.

The embalming solution is injected into the body either through the internal jugular or the femoral vein. It may take several hours to perfuse the entire body with embalming solution. An embalmed cadaver may be stored in a cool environment for several months prior to dissection. Embalming has many unintended effects on the tissues of the body but it is necessary to extend the time for learning to occur. It would be best to learn anatomy from fresh corpses, but this is not feasible.

Causes of Death

We are very fortunate that the State Anatomical Board provides us with the causes of death of our donors. These causes are given to the State Anatomical Board from the Coroner's Office.

Here is a glossary of terms for causes that have recently appeared on the cause of death sheet (updated for Fall 2014):

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib)

Blood dysplaysia


Of the bladder, brain, breast, cervix, colon, liver, lung, lymph, mouth, ovary, pancreas, prostate, stomach, throat, tongue

Cardiac failure

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic renal failure

Clostridium difficile (CDIF)

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

Coronary artery disease (CAD) or Coronary heart disease (CHD)



Type I, Type II


End stage dementia

Failure to thrive

Gall bladder rupture

Geriatric decline

Gastrointestinal bleed


Liver failure


Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)



Can be present in various stages

Metastases (METs)

Can go to the bone, brain, kidney, liver, lung, lymph, spleen

Multiple myeloma

Myocardial infarction (MI)

Nasal neoplasm


Osterative colitis



Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia

Progressive supranuclear palsy

Pulmonary embolism

Rejection of dialysis

Renal failure


Sjogren's Disease

Stomach obstruction