August 28, 2006

Interesting cancer fact

Posted in Iramville at 10:37 pm by Iram

While in the anatomy lab today my group members and I experienced a moment of acute frustration because we could not, for the life of us, find the brachial plexus in the shoulder region of our cadaver. We’d been digging around for a good hour in the area, and all we could come up with was what looked like calcified tissue. I had just about given up and was at the neighboring tank to look at their brachial plexus when one of my tankmates yelled out, “Hey! Look at this!” Of course, thinking the ellusive bundle of nerves and blood vessels had finally been uncovered, I returned to the table only to see my tankmate holding up what looked like a piece of purple metal. Now, why would there be metal in this lady’s shoulder? That’s exactly what I wondered, and began digging further into the orifice created by the removed piece of metal. It turns out that there was plenty more of it where that came from and we were later able to identify it as wire mesh used in a splent.

Our cadaver died of metastatic cancer, and judging from our observations and the confirmation of some of our TAs and professors, it appears that her cancer had caused much of her muscle and neurovascular bundle to fuse in the right shoulder. We had already found the brachial plexus near the beginning of our search, but because all of the nerve and blood vessel membranes had been fused together and to the adjacent pectoral muscles we just didn’t know it. Who knew that cancer could do that??? The wire mesh must have been used to hold the vein walls open so that blood could continue to pass through.

I was still curious about the relatively large stretch of wire mesh that we found compared to the size of a typical splent, so I did some side research and found out that there are some experimental therapies that involve implanting this wire mesh coated with anti-tumor agents into blood vessels for slow release of the chemicals. Now I think that this wire mesh was serving a dual purpose, and I continue to be amazed at the amount of random knowledge one can pick up from a dead body.

1 Comment »

  1. Aamir said,

    heres another interesting fact. an original copy of the declaration of independence was bought by a bargain hunter at a garage sale for 4 dollars. it was valued at 2.54 million dollars.

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