Re: necropsy knives

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Personal preference in autopsy cutlery depends on how much you - meaning the 
pathologist - are willing to take care of your autopsy tools.

If you just want to throw down your dirty knives and leave, then I wish you 
the finest unsharpenable stainless steel a medical supply house can offer - 
the sort that's reduced me at least once to cutting a cirrhotic liver with an 
Satterlee amputation saw.

If you're willing to take care of your cutlery or can get someone to do it, 
you're better off with high carbon steel knives that you can sharpen 
repeatedly. These were what we had when I was a resident in the 1960's, and 
if I were running an autopsy service today they're what I'd want.

Most of the fancy European makers have now gone over to unsharpenable 
stainless steel, and to get old-fashioned kitchen cutlery you need to go to 
one of the traditional American makers such as Dexter-Russell - supposedly 
favored by many pippy-poo French chefs:

These are the knives I have in my kitchen. I favor a heavy Chinese chef's 
knife (looks like a cleaver, but it isn't a cleaver) for practically all 
kitchen tasks, and I've used the same one for about 25 years.

Restaurant supply stores (distinct from gourmet type stores) often retail 
knives of this type - I think Dexter-Russell only sells them in half-dozen 
lots, though a reasonably busy autopsy service should have several. - I wish 
I were a bit more up to date on this - I haven't bought a knife in several 

Since my residency I've only met one pathologist who knew anything about this 
subject, and he was mad as a hatter. - But I do think it would make a fine 
article for one of those muy macho knife magazines!

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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