Tag Archives | Anatomy

Should We Amputate Someone’s Healthy Limb If They So Desire?

How far should we go in enabling people to shape their own physical identities? The Guardian on the ethical quandary posed by Body Integrity Identity Disorder:

In January 2000, the mass media ran several stories about Robert Smith, a surgeon at the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary who had amputated the legs of two patients at their own request and was planning a third amputation. The director of NHS trust running the hospital at which Smith works described the amputation of healthy limbs as “inappropriate”; since then, no British hospital has performed a voluntary amputation.

The first documented case of BIID dates back to a medical textbook published in 1785, by the French surgeon and anatomist Jean-Joseph Sue, who described the case of an Englishman who fell in love with a one-legged woman, and wanted to become an amputee himself so that he could win her heart. He offered a surgeon 100 guineas to amputate his leg and, when the surgeon refused, forced him to perform the operation at gunpoint.

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International Body Harvesting Network Uncovered In Ukraine

Transplanted body parts could save your eyesight, your smile, your ability to walk … but the question is from where they were taken. The Sydney Morning Herald peeks inside a booming new business:

“Two ribs, two Achilles heels, two elbows, two eardrums, two teeth, and so on” … On February 24, Ukrainian authorities made an alarming discovery: bones and other human tissues crammed into coolers in a grimy white minibus. Investigators grew even more intrigued when they found, amid the body parts, envelopes stuffed with cash and autopsy results written in English.

[It] was not the work of a serial killer but part of an international pipeline of ingredients for medical and dental products that are routinely implanted into people around the world … the remains of dead Ukrainians were destined for a factory in Germany belonging to the subsidiary of a US medical products company, Florida-based RTI Biologics.

RTI is one of a growing industry of companies that make profits by turning mortal remains into everything from dental implants to bladder slings to wrinkle cures.

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Heartless: Man Alive Without Heart Or Pulse

heartlessPerhaps in the future, we’ll spend our youth — i.e. the first hundred or so years of our lives — with a heart and a pulse, and our next couple hundred without them. DesignTaxi writes:

Two doctors from the Texas Heart Institute successfully replaced a dying man’s heart with a device—proving that it is possible for your body to be kept alive without a heart, or a pulse.

The turbine-like device, that are simple whirling rotors, developed by the doctors does not beat like a heart, rather provides a ‘continuous flow’ like a garden hose.

If you listened with a stethoscope, you wouldn’t hear a heartbeat. If you examined [the] arteries, there’s no pulse. Hooked up to an EKG, [he’d] be flat-lined.”

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Yeti Hand Returned To Remote Mt. Everest Monastery

_52390062_photo-3Jimmy Stewart, a monastery hidden in the snow capped mountains of Nepal, and the disappearance of an unexplainable, hideous clawed hand. BBC News reports:

A pilot from New Zealand is in Nepal to return a replica of what some believe is the hand of a yeti to a remote monastery in the Everest region. Mike Allsop will fly from Kathmandu to Pangboche Monastery, which sits at 13,123ft.

The originals were stolen from the monastery in the 1990s. They first came to light in the 1950s when an expedition to find the mythical yeti came upon the monastery. Peter Byrne, the leader of the 1950s expedition to find the abominable snowman, said that the hand did not match the skeleton of a human or a primate.

Mr Byrne managed to take one of the bones from the hand out of Nepal to his friend, the Hollywood actor James Stewart, who was on holiday at the time with his wife in Calcutta.

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What’s Your Gut Type?

200px-Stomach_colon_rectum_diagram.svgYou are one of three types of people according to your gut. Scientific American‘s Katherine Harmon explains:

The diverse wilderness of life inside of our bodies is just starting to gain the attention of scientists. The human gut alone typically holds some 100,000 billion bitty bacteria, and with no two people’s microbiomes being the same, classifying these crucial organisms has been challenging.

A new study, published online April 20 in Nature, proposes a simple schematic for profiling people’s gut microbiota, breaking down these helpful hangers-on into three overarching categories (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group).

“The three gut types can explain why the uptake of medicines and nutrients varies from person to person,” Jeroen Raes, a bioinformatician at Vrije University in Brussels and coauthor of the new study, said in a prepared statement. “This knowledge could form the basis of personalized therapies,” by basing treatments on the known metabolic tendencies of a person’s microbiota category.

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What?!? Men Really Can Make Their Penises Longer

Anyone who uses email is constantly bombarded with spam emails with subject lines like “Lengthen Your Man Snake,” which one assumes most recipients consider to be nonsense and quickly delete.


However, AFP via France24 reports that in fact penis lengthening actually is possible:

Some non-surgical methods for increasing the length of the male sex organ do in fact work, while others are likely to result only in soreness and disappointment, a review of medical literature has shown.

Surgical procedures, however, can be dangerous and have an “unacceptably high rate of complications,” according to the study, published this week in the Journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

“An increasing number of patients seek urological advice for the so-called ‘short penis’,” the researchers reported.

This is true despite the fact that “penile length is normal in most of these men, who tend to overestimate normal phallic dimension.”

A male member — measured on the dorsal, or upper, side — can be considered normal in length if it is at least four centimetres (1.6 inches) when limp, and 7.5 centimetres (three inches) when rigid, noted several of the studies evaluated…

I’m not sure the AFP reporter studied our infamous penis size map before writing that report though!… Read the rest

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Turkey’s Museum Of Hair

Avanos-hair-museum21Oddity Central examines one of the planet’s most disturbing “museums,” The Hair Museum in Avanos, Turkey. Every inch of every surface is covered in human hair, culled from tens of thousands of women and tagged and labeled. Great fun for the whole family!

The Hair Museum of Avanos, in Cappadocia, is definitely a must-see if you’re into bizarre tourist spots.

Ever since 3000 BC, Avanos has been known for its high quality earthenware, made from the mineral-rich mud of the Red River, but in recent years, the town has mostly been mentioned in relation to a unique hair museum created by skilled Turkish potter Chez Galip. The unusual establishment, located under Galip’s pottery shop, is filled with hair samples from over 16,000 women. The walls, ceiling, and all other surfaces, except the floor, are covered with locks of hair from the different women who have visited this place, and pieces of paper with addresses on them.

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‘Bionic Eye’ Implant Gives Hope To The Blind


Photo: Jalal Volker (CC)

“I see,” said the blind man, with the bionic eye. For centuries the hearing impaired have used devices to aid their hearing, but it is only till now that we may be able to help the blind see again. Bangkok Post reports:

For a man whose view of the world has slowly faded to black over 30 years, a device that allows him to see flashes of light has kindled his hope of one day gazing upon his grandson’s face.

A career electrician who grew up in Greece and came to the United States as a young man, Elias Konstantopoulos first noticed his vision getting poorer when at age 43 he absentmindedly tried on a relative’s eyeglasses and found he could see more clearly with them than without.

Soon after, he visited a doctor who tested his sight and discovered he was no longer able to see his outstretched arms from the corners of his eyes.

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Plasticize Me: The Ethics Of What To Do With The Dead

manseau-575Will recent advances in human tissue preservation change the way we think about bodies, death, God…and China?

Guernica discusses how “plasticization” and other advances create new questions regarding how we may make use of corpses. Cadavers are in-demand like never before, for all sorts of purposes, including macabre exhibitions:

Von Hagens is a tireless promoter of the ethical difference between his exhibits and the others. “All the copycat exhibitions are from China,” he told the New York Times. “And they’re all using unclaimed bodies.”

Both “Bodies…The Exhibition” and “Body Worlds” make use of a new technology von Hagens calls “Plastination,” by which all water is removed from human tissues and replaced with soft silicone polymers. A macabre detail included in the story von Hagens tells of the development of this process hints at the ethical questions that were to come: He first thought of creating perfectly preserved cross-sections of human bodies when he was at a sandwich shop one day watching a butcher run a ham through an electric slicer.

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How The Human Penis Lost Its Spines

Photo: Snowyowls (CC)

Photo: Snowyowls (CC)

When I read that headline I thought I must have clicked on National Enquirer or something, but no, it’s Elizabeth Landau cranking out an SEO-friendly story for CNN:

You’ve read the headline, and it probably made you giggle. Go ahead. Get it out of your system. Then take a deep breath and consider how evolution affected a few specific body parts, and why.

Humans and chimpanzees share more than 97% of DNA, but there are some fairly obvious differences in appearance, behavior and intellect. Now, scientists are learning more than ever about what makes us uniquely human.

We know that humans have larger brains and, within the brain, a larger angular gyrus, a region associated with abstract concepts. Also, male chimpanzees have smaller penises than humans, and their penises have spines. Not like porcupine needles or anything, but small pointy projections on the surface that basically make the organ bumpy.

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