02.02.2023 | main topic
The pathological anatomical collection of the Natural History Museum Vienna
Erschienen in: Wiener Medizinische WochenschriftEinloggen, um Zugang zu erhalten
The pathological anatomical collection Vienna (Pathologisch-Anatomische Sammlung Wien; PASW) is a living and still growing research collection. It was established as early as 1796 as part of the Medical University of Vienna, acquired the status of an independent federal museum in 1971, and was assigned to the Natural History Museum Vienna in 2012. It houses a wide range of human wet and dry specimens and further objects, such as moulages, medical devices, microbiological and histological specimens, and a photo archive (approximately 50,000 objects), which, as a meaningful source, may contribute to disclosing not only aspects of the medical history and the development of corresponding museums in Vienna, but is also considered a collection of cultural and current scientific relevance, quite comparable to today’s biobanks. Most of the tissue amassment represents wet organic specimens and human skeletons or skeletal elements representing, e.g., congenital and metabolic disorders, infectious diseases, injuries, neoplasms, or musculoskeletal diseases, basically collected as descriptive anatomical teaching aids. This article reviews the current medical issues on which research has been and is being conducted by including PASW specimens (hereby using the ICD-10 code), and the extent to and ethical conditions under which this important heritage could be used as a reference collection for clinical and bioanthropological (paleopathological and palaeoepidemiological) studies; finally, this article reflects on the value and future research prospects, taking into account different positions and the ongoing discussions in pathological anatomical human tissue collections.