Embalming techniques

CETRAS.jpgCETRAS highly rates the safety of personnel involved in the embalming procedures and of the users of the embalmed bodies. Therefore, all bodies that arrive at CETRAS are firstly screened and blood samples are taken to detect whether the donor contains infectious agents or not. Infectious bodies are rejected to guarantee the safety of individuals.

Research of our own data indicates that this approach is an effective safeguard against unintentional exposure of our users to contaminated bodies.

All embalming procedures start shortly after the arrival of the body at CETRAS.

Thiel bodies

CETRAS has been using the Thiel embalming method for almost two decades. In 1992, Walter Thiel from Graz firstly reported on this entirely new soft-fix method with a minimal concentration of formalin.

Despite the high costs of the embalming equipment and chemical products, administration of a complex mix of products followed by immersion in a tank solution results in an embalming that meets high standards of preservation:

  • Tissue colour and consistency closely resemble those of living individuals
  • Flexible bodies that enable many training and research applications
  • Odourless embalming solutions that do not irritate skin and mucosa
  • Stable embalming fluids for prolonged storage that effectively disinfect without mould formation
  • Room air concentration of formaldehyde remains under the limit of detection
  • Storage for approximately one year in sealed plastic bags or in a tank solution


Conventional embalming procedures using mainly formalin have far fewer applications due to profound changes of colour; altered biomechanical tissue properties by extensive protein cross-linking; fragility of organs and tissues; and formaldehyde's known toxicity and annoying odour.

As a high-fidelity model, Thiel bodies offer great opportunities for advanced surgical training. Reperfusion of organs and tissues is feasible and could substantially improve the realism of the model. Training courses on these bodies can be integrated into a training curriculum for postgraduates or can be offered to attending specialists before proceeding to surgery on their patients.

Zinc chloride bodies

Zinc chloride bodies contain a very small amount of formaldehyde (less than 1%). These bodies are mainly used for dissection courses for students but are not preferred for surgical training because of reduced joint flexibility and greyish tissue colour preservation. Zinc chloride bodies can be preserved for over two years.

Fresh frozen bodieskoelcellen.jpg

CETRAS also employs fresh frozen bodies but only for research purposes. These corpses have some advantages:

  • No need for embalming fluids
  • Lifelike tissue quality

But they need to be stored in a freezer and there is the inevitable putrefaction process that starts immediately after death, limiting their usage time.