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Embalming Terms - National Board Exam

Abdominal Anatomical Regions

Nine region plan: by means of four imaginary planes, two of which are horizontal (indicated by lines drawn across the right and left 10th ribs and across the right and left anterior superior iliac spines) and two sagittal (indicated by lines drawn from mid point of inguinal ligament to the nipples of the chest, right and left sides. Upper row - right hypochondriac, epigastric, left hypochondriac. Middle row - right lateral, umbilical, left lateral. Lower row - right inguinal, pubic, left inguinal. Four Region Plan: by means of two imaginary planes, one horizontal and the other mid-sagittal. Upper right quadrant, upper left quadrant, lower right quadrant, lower left quadrant


antemortem injuries resulting from friction of the skin against a firm object resulting in the removal of the epidermis


to touch or contact as with the tarsal plates of the closed eyes

Accessory Chemical

group of chemicals used in addition to vascular (arterial) and cavity embalming fluids; includes but is not limited to hardening compounds, preservative powders, sealing agents, mold preservative agents, and pack application agents

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

AIDS; a specific group of diseases or conditions which are indicative of severe Immunosuppression related to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); persons dead having had AIDS may exhibit conditions such as wasting syndrome, extrapulmonary tuberculosis, and Kaposi's sarcoma

Action Level AL

Exposure Limits; these levels are established to ensure adequate protection of employees at exposures below the OSHA limits, but to minimize the compliance burdens for employers whose employees have exposures below the 8 hour permissible exposure limit (PEL). The AL for formaldehyde is 0.5 ppm

Active Hyperemia

hyperemia due to an increased afflux of arterial blood into dilated capillaries

Actual Pressure

that pressure which is indicated by the injector gauge needle when the arterial tube is open and the arterial solution is flowing into the body


grave wax; soft whitish crumbly or greasy material that forms upon the postmortem hydrolysis and hydrogenation of body fats


in the presence of free oxygen


to disperse as an aerosol; minute particles of blood and water become atomized and suspended in air when water under pressure meets the blood drainage or when flushing an uncovered sink


intravascular; the increase of viscosity of blood brought about by the clumping of particulate formed elements in the blood vessels


relating to the process of dying or the moment of death, so called because of the former erroneous notion that dying is a painful process; refers to Moribund

Agonal Algor

(moribund) decrease in body temperature immediately before death; the body tissues cool; is an antemortem temperature change

Agonal Coagulation

in reference to blood, a change from a fluid into a thickened mass

Agonal Dehydration

the loss of moisture from the living body during the agonal state

Agonal Edema

escape of blood serum from an intravascular to an extravascular location immediately before death

Agonal Fever

increase in body temperature immediately before death

Agonal Period

period immediately before somatic death

Agonal Translocation

An agonal or postmortem redistribution of host microflora on a hostwide basis

Algor Mortis

post mortem cooling of the body to the surrounding temperature

Alternate Drainage

method of injection-drainage in which embalming solution is injected and then injection is stopped while the drainage is opened

Amino Acid

building blocks of which proteins are constructed, and the end products of protein digestion or hydrolysis; their basic formula is NH2-CHRCOOH - an amino group, an alpha carbon, any aliphatic or aromatic radical, and a carboxyl group


in the absence of free oxygen


severe generalized edema

Anatomical Guide

a descriptive reference for locating arteries and veins by means of anatomical structures that are known

Anatomical Limits

points of origin and points of termination in relation to adjacent structures; used to designate the boundaries of arteries

Anatomical Position

the body is erect, feet together, palms facing forward, and thumbs are pointed away from the body


localized abnormal dilation or out pocketing of a blood vessel resulting from a congenital defect or a weakness of the vessel wall

Aneurysm Hook

an embalming instrument that is used for blunt dissection and in raising vessels

Aneurysm Needle

an embalming instrument that is used for blunt dissection and in raising vessels, which has an eye in the hook portion of the instrument for placing ligatures around vessels

Angular Spring Forceps

a multipurpose instrument used in the embalming process


deviations from normal


in front of the elbow/in the bend of the elbow


before death

Antemortem Cellular Death-

before death; an example being Gangrene


toward the front

Anterior Superior Iliac Spine

a bony protuberance, that can be palpated topographically, found on the ilium, the superior, broad portion of the hipbone; the origin of the inguinal ligament and the sartorius muscle

Anticoagulant Fluid

ingredient of embalming fluids that retards the natural postmortem tendency of blood to become more viscous or prevents adverse reactions between blood and other embalming chemicals

Apparent Death

condition in which the manifestations of life are feebly maintained

Arterial (Vascular) Fluid

the concentrated, preservative, embalming chemical that will be diluted with water to form the arterial solution for injection into the arterial system during vascular embalming; the purpose is for inactivating saprophytic bacteria and rendering the body tissues less susceptible to decomposition

Arterial Solution

the mixture of arterial (vascular) fluid and water which is used for the arterial injection and may include supplemental fluids

Arterial Tube -

a tube used to inject embalming fluid into the blood vascular system


the term applied to a number of pathological conditions causing a thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the walls of the arteries


place of union between two or more bones


accumulation of serious fluids in the peritoneal cavity


freedom from infection and from any form of life; sterility


insufficient intake of oxygen resulting from numerous causes


withdrawal of gas, fluids and semi-solids from body cavities and hollow viscera by means of suction with an aspirator and a trocar


a drug that causes contraction of body tissues and canals


fatty degeneration or thickening of the walls of the larger arteries occurring in arthosclerosis


the ability to hear; the auditory faculty


apparatus used for sterilization by steam pressure, usually at 250 F / 121 C for a specific time


self-destruction of cells; decomposition of all tissues by enzymes of their own formation without microbial assistance

Autopsy -

a postmortem examination of the organs and tissues of a body to determine cause of death or pathological condition; a necropsy

Bactericidal Agent

destructive to bacteria

Bacteriostatic Agent

agent that has the ability to inhibit or retard bacterial growth; no destruction of viability of the microorganism is implied

Balsamic Substance

resins combined with oil; a fragrant, resinous, oily exudate from various trees and plants

Base of the Axillary Space

the arm pit

(Anterior) Boundary

established by drawing a line along the fold of skin which envelops the lateral border of the pectoralis muscle

(Posterior) Boundary

established by drawing a line along the fold of skin which envelops the lateral border of the latissimus dorsi muscle

(Medial) Boundary

established by drawing a line which connects the two points where the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles blend into the chest wall

(Lateral) Boundary

established by drawing a line which connects the two points where the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles blend into the arm

Bischloromethyl Ether BCME

a carcinogen potentially produced when formaldehyde and sodium hypochlorite come into contact with each other; normally occurs only in a controlled laboratory setting and requires a catalyst


biological agent or condition that constitutes a hazard to humans

Biological Death-

irreversible somatic death

Bleaching Agent

a chemical which lightens a skin discoloration


tissue that circulates through the vascular system and is composed of approximately 22% solids and 78% water

Blood Pressure

the pressure exerted by the blood in the living body on the arterial wall measured in millimeters of mercury

Bloodborne Pathogen Rule

OSHA REGULATION (29CFR 1910-1030) regulating the employee's exposure to blood and other body fluids. OSHA DEFINITIONS: Blood. Human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood

Bloodborne Pathogens

pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans; these pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)


the presence or the reasonably anticipated presence of blood or other potentially infectious materials on an item or surface

Contaminated Laundry

laundry which has been soiled with blood or other potentially infectious materials or may contain sharps

Contaminated Sharps

any contaminated object that can penetrate the skin including, but not limited to, needles scalpels, broken glass, and exposed wire ends

Engineering Controls

controls (e.g. sharps disposal container, self sheathing needles) that isolate or remove the Bloodborne pathogen hazard from the workplace

Exposure Incident

a specific eye, mouth, other mucous membrane, non-intact skin, or parenteral, contact with blood or potentially infectious materials that results from the performance of an employee's duties

Occupational Exposure

reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral, contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties


piercing mucous membranes or the skin barrier through such events as needlesticks, human bites, cuts and abrasions

Personal Protective Equipment PPE -

specialized clothing or equipment worn by an employee for protection against a hazard

Universal Precautions

is an approach to infection control whereby all blood and certain human body fluids are treated as if known infections for HIV, HBV, and other Bloodborne pathogens

Work Practice Controls

controls that reduce the likelihood of exposure by altering the manner in which a task is performed (e.g. prohibiting recapping of needles, and not allowing blood splatter or Aerosolization of blood while draining during the embalming process.

Blood Discoloration

discolorations resulting from changes in blood composition, content, or location, either intravascular or extravascular

Blood Vascular System

circulatory network composed of the heart, arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins

Bloodborne Pathogens

pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans

Blunt Dissection

the separation and pushing aside of the superficial fascia leading to blood vessels and then the deep fascia surrounding the blood vessels, utilizing manual techniques or round ended instruments which separate rather than cut the protective tissues


acute, deep-seated inflammation in the skin which usually begins as a subcutaneous swelling in a hair follicle

Bridge Suture

Temporary Interrupted Suture; individual stitch knotted at the tissue edge; maybe applied prior to embalming to align tissues

Buccal Cavity-

vestibule of the oral cavity; the space between the lips, gums, and teeth

Bulb Syringe

self-contained, soft rubber manual pump designed to create pressure to deliver fluid as it passes through one-way valves located within the bulb; it is used to deliver fluids; it cannot be used for aspiration


an embalming chemical which affects the stabilization of the acid-base (ph) balance within the solutions and in the embalmed tissues


dead human body used for medical purposes; including transplantation, anatomical dissection, and study

Cadaveric Lividity

Livor Mortis; postmortem, intravascular, red-blue discoloration resulting from hypostasis of the blood

Cadaveric Spasm

a prolongation of the last violent contraction of the muscles into the rigidity of death; instantaneous rigor mortis


the dome-like superior portion of the cranium; that portion removed during the cranial autopsy

Calvarium Clamp

a device used as a means of fastening the Calvarium after a cranial autopsy


formation of new channels in tissue


minute blood vessels, the walls of which comprise a single layer of endothelial cells; capillaries connect the smallest arteries (arteriole) with the smallest veins (venule) and are where pressure filtration occurs

Capillary Permeability-

ability of substances to diffuse through capillary walls into the tissue spaces


a compound of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen; sugars, starches, and glycogen

Carbon Monoxide

an odorless very poisonous gas that is a product of incomplete combustion of carbon


circumscribed inflammation of the skin and deeper tissues that ends in suppuration and is accompanied by systemic symptoms, such as fever and leukocytosis


a cancer-causing chemical or material


the formation of cavities in an organ or tissue; frequently seen in some forms of tuberculosis

Cavity Embalming

direct treatment, other than vascular (arterial) injection, of the contents of the body cavities and the lumina of the hollow viscera; usually accomplished by aspiration and injection

Cavity Fluid

embalming chemicals which are injected into the cavities of the body following the aspiration in the cavity embalming; cavity fluid can also be used as the chemical in hypodermic and surface embalming

Cellular Death

death of the individual cells in the body

Center of Fluid Distribution

ascending and/or arch of the aorta

Center of Venous Drainage

right atrium of the heart

Centrifugal Force Machine

embalming machine that uses an electrical pump to create pressure either pulsating or non-pulsating

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC, CDCP; a major agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, concerned withal phases of control of communicable, vector borne, and occupational diseases


substances that bind metallic ions such as EDTA (Ethylenediamine-tetracetic acid)- used as an anticoagulant in embalming solutions

Chemical Postmortem Change

a change in the body's chemical composition that occurs after death such as hemolysis


the application of chemical reagents in the treatment of disease in man, causing an elevated preservation demand

Clostridium perfringens

anaerobic Gram-positive rod bacterium that produces epsilon toxin; can be used as a bioweapon; A type of bacteria that is the most common agent of gas gangrene and can also cause food poisoning as well as a fulminant form of bowel disease called necrotizing colitis

Clinical Death

a phase of somatic death lasting from 5-6 minutes in which life may be restored

Coagulating Agents

chemical and physical agents that bring about coagulation


the process of converting soluble protein into insoluble protein by heating or contact with a chemical such as an alcohol or an aldehyde; the solidification of a sol into a gelatinous mass; agglutination is a specific form of coagulation

Coinjection Fluid

a fluid used primarily to supplement and enhance the action of vascular (arterial) solutions


the irreversible cessation of brain activity and loss of consciousness; death beginning at the brain

Communicable Disease

disease that may be transmitted either directly or indirectly between individuals by an infectious agent

Concurrent Disinfection

disinfection practices carried out during the embalming process

Concurrent Drainage

method of drainage in which drainage occurs continuously during vascular (arterial) injection


rounded articular process of a bone


mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white portion of the eye

Contagious Disease

disease that may be transmitted between individuals, with reference to the organism that causes the disease


the presence or the reasonably anticipated presence of blood or other potentially infectious materials on an item or surface


transparent part of the tunic of the eyeball that covers the iris and pupil and admits light into the interior

Corneal Sclera Button

that portion of the cornea recovered for transplantation in situ


an official of a local community who holds inquests concerning sudden, violent, and unexplained deaths


obesity; having an abnormal amount of fat on the body

Cosmetic Fluid

embalming fluid that contains dyes and coloring agents intended to restore a more natural skin tone through the embalming process

Counter Staining Compound-

dye that helps to cover internal discolorations such as jaundice


plastic garment designed to cover the body from the chest down to the upper thigh

Cranial Embalming

method used to embalm the contents of the cranial cavity through aspiration and injection of the cranial chamber by passage of a trocar through the cribriform plate

Cremated Remains

those elements remaining after cremation of a dead human body


crackling sensation produced when gasses trapped in tissues are palpated, as in subcutaneous emphysema

Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease

a disease of the central nervous system with unknown etiology, assumed to be a slow virus; because of unknown etiology, care givers using invasive procedures use extreme caution

Cribriform Plate

thin, medial portion of the ethmoid bone of the skull


a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes; a sign that oxygen in the blood is dangerously diminished (as in carbon monoxide poisoning)


irreversible cessation of all vital functions; (nonlegal definition)

Death Rattle

noise made by a moribund person caused by air passing through a residue of mucous in the trachea and posterior oral cavity

Death Struggle

the semi-convulsive twitches which often occur before death


composition of proteins by enzymes of aerobic bacteria; aerobic proteolysis


separation of compounds into simpler substances by the action of microbial and/or autolytic enzymes


loss of moisture from a body tissue which may occur antemortem or postmortem

Denatured Protein

a protein whose structure has been changed by a physical or chemical agent


process of drying out


skin slip; sloughing off of the epidermis, wherein there is a separation of the epidermis from the underlying dermis


separation of substances in solution by the difference in their rates of diffusion through a semipermeable membrane

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