Using ATP-driven bioluminescence assay to monitor microbial safety in a contemporary human cadaver laboratory

Brion Benninger, Thomas Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: The objective of this study was to utilize a cost-effective method for assessing the levels of bacterial, yeast, and mold activity during a human dissection laboratory course. Nowadays, compliance with safety regulations is policed by institutions at higher standards than ever before. Fear of acquiring an unknown infection is one of the top concerns of professional healthcare students, and it provokes anti-laboratory anxiety. Human cadavers are not routinely tested for bacteria and viruses prior to embalming. Human anatomy dissecting rooms that house embalmed cadavers are normally cleaned after the dissected cadavers have been removed. There is no evidence that investigators have ever assessed bacterial and fungal activities using adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-driven bioluminescence assays. Methods: A literature search was conducted on texts, journals, and websites regarding bacterial, yeast, and mold activities in an active cadaver laboratory. Midway into a clinical anatomy course, ATP bioluminescence assays were used to swab various sites within the dissection room, including entrance and exiting door handles, water taps, cadaver tables, counter tops, imaging material, X-ray box switches, and the cadaver surfaces. Results: The results demonstrated very low activities on cadaver tables, washing up areas, and exiting door handles. There was low activity on counter tops and X-ray boxes. There was medium activity on the entrance door handles. Conclusion: These findings suggest an inexpensive and accurate method for monitoring safety compliance and microbial activity. Students can feel confident and safe in the environment in which they work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-167
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • adenosine triphosphate
  • bioluminescence
  • cadaver lab
  • microbial
  • safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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