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  #1  
Old 12-04-2013, 09:45 AM
Artemis_Tardis Artemis_Tardis is offline
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What do they do with amputated limbs?

Hospitals have special hospital trash, where they throw diapers, used medicine boxes, etc etc etc. But what about limbs? do they go into the trash as well? Does it get incinerated? Wouldn't that somehow spread possibly harmful substances?
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  #2  
Old 12-04-2013, 09:49 AM
campp campp is offline
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I have no idea, but there are standard protocols for all biohazards. Incineration would prevent harmful substances from being released, not spread them.
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  #3  
Old 12-04-2013, 09:55 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Here in Ontario, incineration, preferably on-site. Either using the hospital's incinerator, or just overcooking the dinners for the patients. Here is the cookbook.

Last edited by Muffin; 12-04-2013 at 09:56 AM..
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  #4  
Old 12-04-2013, 04:11 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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A friend of mine lost a leg in an accident. He really, really wanted to keep his amputated leg, but they wouldn't let him.

There was a Civil War officer who did, in fact, keep his amputated arm. Fewer regulations in those days.
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:21 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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One time we were at the hospital waiting for an accident witness to get treated so I could talk to her. I was wondering around and ended up down by the incinerator where a guy in full contamination suit was literally shoveling body parts in. They were all loosely wrapped in what looked like brown butchers paper. But I saw some hands, arms, and feet sticking out on some. There had to be about a dozen or so. So I'm thinking maybe they keep them and do several at once? I can't imagine that many amputations in one day.

Anyway, it was kind of freaky to watch.
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  #6  
Old 12-04-2013, 04:53 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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AFAIK they're either incinerated as medical waste, or if the patient requests sent to a funeral home.
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  #7  
Old 12-04-2013, 05:48 PM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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I used to work for the local health authority as a transport manager. We had six different sites and only one incinerator. Orthopedics was several miles away from there.

When they amputated any body part, it would be well, very well, wrapped up in plastic wrap and clearly marked as a bio hazard. I had to send transport to take it to be incinerated.

Mostly we did it with our own transport, but we also had a contract with a local taxi firm for anything we couldn't do ourselves. It sometimes happened, usually at weekends or holidays, that the taxi firm would do the transport for us. Most of their drivers wouldn't do it for some reason, so the owner himself had to do it.
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:20 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
AFAIK they're either incinerated as medical waste, or if the patient requests sent to a funeral home.
I was just going to say this myself. Some people want amputated or otherwise removed body parts cremated so it can be buried with them when the time comes, for any number of reasons.

Is it true that some hospitals will accommodate this wish for parents who want the placenta?

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 12-04-2013 at 06:20 PM..
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  #9  
Old 12-04-2013, 06:24 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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Orthodox Jews believe that amputated limbs need to be buried. I imagine that if requested for religious reasons, a hospital will turn the limb over to the person it used to be attached to for religiously-proper disposal.
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  #10  
Old 12-04-2013, 06:39 PM
LawMonkey LawMonkey is offline
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Cremation makes sense, either in bulk for those who don't care or specially for those that do (e.g., Orthodox Jews). I have to admit--if I lost a limb, I'd rather want it preserved in a large glass jar. My next-of-kin could sell it for megabux to Obscura when I died, no doubt.
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  #11  
Old 12-04-2013, 08:44 PM
Enola Straight Enola Straight is offline
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I would assume, before disposal, the tissue would be sent to pathology.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:23 PM
tracer tracer is offline
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They should turn them into taxidermic specimens, and then connect them to the back of a giant throne so that they're all pointing outward. It wouldn't be creepy in the slightest....
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  #13  
Old 12-04-2013, 09:48 PM
Artemis_Tardis Artemis_Tardis is offline
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I would love to use my amputated leg to freak people out if I had an amputated leg...
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  #14  
Old 12-04-2013, 09:55 PM
Jinx Jinx is offline
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It's payment these days. Healthcare costs an arm and a leg!
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  #15  
Old 12-04-2013, 10:15 PM
Qwisp Qwisp is offline
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My grandfather's leg was buried. This was probably sometime in the 20's. We aren't Jewish. From what I understand they used to bury amputated limbs quite often in the past.
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  #16  
Old 12-05-2013, 07:03 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Maybe somebody's stockpiling Arms
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  #17  
Old 12-05-2013, 08:02 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by Enola Straight View Post
I would assume, before disposal, the tissue would be sent to pathology.
You assume correctly, unfortunately (limbs (typically gangrenous legs) are not my favorite anatomic specimen).

We've never had to my recollection any patient wanting to take an amputated leg home for burial or other purpose. Placentas, rarely yes. Sometimes gallbladders (or just the stones). Once during residency training a woman requested and got her uterus for presumed backyard burial.

The Civil War general alluded to is probably Dan Sickles*, who lost a leg at Gettysburg and donated it to the Army Medical Museum (where, I understand, it can still be seen today. Make a special trip and bring the kiddies!). Sickles used to go visit his leg at the museum.

*Sickles was a notorious figure who got away with killing his wife's lover (temporary insanity defense) in 1859, then botched things on a major scale leading troops in the Civil War but still wound up winning the Medal of Honor.
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  #18  
Old 12-05-2013, 08:10 AM
oldpunk72 oldpunk72 is offline
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It's usualy incineration, which is how most medical waste is disposed.
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  #19  
Old 12-05-2013, 08:14 AM
Dingbang Dingbang is offline
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Not a limb, but when when I had my recent surgery for a herniated disc, I asked the surgeon just before going in if I could have what he removed as a souvenir. I was mostly joking but was a little curious to see the stuff that was causing me so much trouble.
After surgery he came in and gave me a pill-bottle sized container of the stuff, preserved in some liquid. He said he had to really beg the folks in the lab (pathology??) for it and that they were really uneasy about putting it in the hands of the patient.
I was surprised that he had gone to so much trouble and I jokingly replied that it would make a good show and tell for our Cub Scout den. He reacted with great concern and said no, that would not be a good idea to pass it around to children.
Apparently, my surgeon does not get my jokes.
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  #20  
Old 12-05-2013, 09:42 AM
bouv bouv is offline
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This guy might have gotten to take his foot home:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io6Y6N5GgkQ

It's very possible it's a fake...you never get a very close-up view.

(Warning: Not for the squeamish! You are seeing either a real amputated foot, or a pretty darn good replica of one.)

Edit: This news story seems to lean in the direction of confirming it's real, but still no solid proof.

Last edited by bouv; 12-05-2013 at 09:44 AM..
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  #21  
Old 12-05-2013, 10:12 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by Dingbang View Post
I was surprised that he had gone to so much trouble and I jokingly replied that it would make a good show and tell for our Cub Scout den. He reacted with great concern and said no, that would not be a good idea to pass it around to children.
The liquid preservative is almost certainly formalin, which is stinky stuff and is believed to pose some carcinogenic risk, which is why pathology labs have concerns about releasing tissue that's been soaking in it (the tissue could of course be rinsed to remove most formalin, and you could then preserve it at home in a bottle of tequila or something.

As for show-and-tell, we had a thoracic surgeon here once who would check out specimens from pathology to show school children. There are devices that will create a sealed plastic bag with tissue in a small amount of formalin, useful for demonstration/teaching purposes (our lab back in residency referred to these as "seal-a-meal" specimens).

It just occurred to me that I still have my dog's bladder stones in a drawer somewhere. They'd make a nice paperweight, I suppose.
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  #22  
Old 12-05-2013, 10:20 AM
bump bump is offline
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Originally Posted by Dingbang View Post
Not a limb, but when when I had my recent surgery for a herniated disc, I asked the surgeon just before going in if I could have what he removed as a souvenir.
I used to have the screw that was used in my knee surgery around... I asked the surgeon for it when they went back in and took it out a year later. He cleaned it up and gave it to me in the post-removal follow up visit.

I think a big part of why they don't let people keep amputated limbs is because they generally only amputate when there's something like gangrene or in cases of extreme trauma, neither of which is something good to keep around, pickled or not.
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  #23  
Old 12-05-2013, 10:30 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Never been invited for Osso Bucco at Dr. Lector's house?
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  #24  
Old 12-05-2013, 10:48 AM
Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
I was wondering around and ended up down by the incinerator where a guy in full contamination suit was literally shoveling body parts in. They were all loosely wrapped in what looked like brown butchers paper. But I saw some hands, arms, and feet sticking out on some. There had to be about a dozen or so.
That would be a very convenient job to have if you are serial killer.
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  #25  
Old 12-05-2013, 12:07 PM
Jake Jake is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Maybe somebody's stockpiling Arms
Ha!
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  #26  
Old 12-05-2013, 02:54 PM
Mr. Milton Mr. Milton is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
A friend of mine lost a leg in an accident. He really, really wanted to keep his amputated leg, but they wouldn't let him.

There was a Civil War officer who did, in fact, keep his amputated arm. Fewer regulations in those days.
That would be ex-Congressman and General Dan Sickles. He lost the leg (it wasn't his arm) in the process of almost losing the Battle of Gettysburg for the Union. The leg was de-fleshed and he visited the bones on exhibit at what later became the National Library of Medicine Musuem on the former (not current ) site of Walter Reed in DC. That'd be the one on Georgia Avenue, not Wisconsin Avenue (which is the new, Bethesda site). In Sickles' day, the museum collected in order to advance the then weak knowledge of medicine, particaularly on how to treat wounds and stuff.

You can visit it (the musuem, and the leg --which is still on display) today:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/medtour/nmhm.html
The webiste probably has a picture of it.

Last edited by Mr. Milton; 12-05-2013 at 02:58 PM..
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  #27  
Old 12-05-2013, 03:06 PM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is online now
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I'm a little disappointed that no medical professional in this thread has yet confirmed my hope that amputated limbs go to Project Franktopus.
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  #28  
Old 12-05-2013, 03:22 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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There's a story (possibly urban legend) about med students who'd drive around scaring the bejesus out of toll takers by proffering money held by a cadaver arm stuck out a car window.

I always liked the part in Arrowsmith involving Cliff Clawson, the pancreas and the banker's hat.
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  #29  
Old 12-07-2013, 12:35 AM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
That would be a very convenient job to have if you are serial killer.
You know, I've always kind of wondered about that with someone who works at a crematorium.
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  #30  
Old 12-07-2013, 12:50 AM
ExTank ExTank is offline
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One company that I know of (unfortunately; one of their sites is one of our customers): Stericycle.

I hate going there to work. It looks/smells like there's Hepatitis A thru Z on everything, and the stench...it's the sort only a hungry buzzard could love.

It takes a long hot shower with lots of soap when I get home to feel clean again, and my clothes go immediately into the washer, with a double dose of laundry detergent and bleach.

ETA: I think I just threw up a little thinking about it.

Last edited by ExTank; 12-07-2013 at 12:50 AM..
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  #31  
Old 12-07-2013, 01:36 AM
Washoe Washoe is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
There was a Civil War officer who did, in fact, keep his amputated arm. Fewer regulations in those days.
My wife has an ancestor who lost an arm in the Civil War. He accused the doctor who amputated it of incompetence, as he felt that the break did not warrant high amputation. The doctor denied it. So my wife’s ancestor went out to the battle site and dug up his own arm, and went back and shoved it in the doctor’s face, proving to him that the break was too low to require high amputation.
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