“A pig that sings opera?”

Our first blog from our Learning Team at Surgeons’ Hall Museums reflecting on the recent Lung Dissection workshop that we hosted at the end of July.

DSCF9696Last Thursday (28th July 2016) saw an exciting new development in education delivery at Surgeons’ Hall Museums- the dissection of a lung. An excited gaggle of young would-be surgeons, with a few parents in tow, were kitted out in white coats and surgeon’s gloves and provided with a whole pig lung. As a matter of taste we had removed the tongues (see what we did there?) since they were not very attractive but the whole of the epiglottis, trachea, oesophagus and lungs were available.DSCF9661

We began by pointing out the front and back and then went straight to how the epiglottis flips over to close off the trachea when we eat, so food doesn’t normally pass into the lungs. Then we dissected down the trachea to where the two branches of the left and right main bronchi pass to each of the two lungs.

DSCF9686Abundant amounts of mucus were visible in the airways and we pointed out that about ½ a litre of gooey mucus was secreted by the lungs every day. A cry of ‘why?’ immediately arose from the budding surgeons and so we were able to describe the muco-ciliary escalator and how it traps dust and bugs on its sticky surface and sweeps them from the lungs.

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We then demonstrated how to dissect the branching path of the bronchi out to the alveolar regions and described the basis of gas exchange. We finished with a description of how the lungs can be affected by disease and, especially important for this young audience, the perils of smoking. The funniest moment came when the vocal cords were being demonstrated- ‘ Isn’t it amazing how these shapeless little flaps of tissue can be used to sing opera’,  we said to an ardent young anatomist  – ‘Hmm..’ – said the wary Dad sitting next to him – ‘…a pig that sings opera?’.

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