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Prosector (Latin : Prosector : "Vorneider", "Dissector") has been the professional designation for the " dissector " of an anatomical institution since the Middle Ages, who was responsible for removing the specimens obtained from corpses . In larger hospitals there were doctors who had to dissect the corpse to determine the cause of death and were also referred to as prosectors.


The first mention of the prosector (also incisor, dissector) can be found in texts of the 13th century. At that time the "anatomical act", the section, was not yet an independent teaching and research method and served almost exclusively to illustrate the text read aloud. The lector, a professor at the relevant educational institution, was sitting on a raised chair and reciting Galen's texts . Regardless of the text that was read, a prosector who worked as a craftsman , bath worker or surgeon on a daily basis dissected the corpse. A famulus the lectors, the demonstrator showed with a stick in his opinion, just read aloud structure. It was also part of the duties of a prosector to open a corpse and inspect the viscera if it was suspected that someone of higher rank had been poisoned.

The sharpest critic of this artificial separation between the learned lecturer and the artisan prosector was Andreas Vesalius in the first half of the 16th century . In his time he was the most industrious prosector and revolutionized anatomy with his textbook in 7 volumes De humani corporis fabrica , published in Basel in 1543. Later his field of activity expanded and he became the assistant of the professor in anatomical schools. He was supposed to prepare the corpses for demonstration and make the anatomical specimens for demonstration purposes in class or to enrich the museum of the institution.

Depending on the institution, today's prosector has taken on various functions:

  • He is the head of the pathology department of a hospital, s. Prosecture , and examines corpses to verify diagnosis and remedies used. If the cause of death indicates a possible external influence, he calls in a doctor for forensic medicine .
  • He works for an anatomical institute. There he has medical responsibility for body donation . This includes the issuing of body donation agreements, discussions with the body donors and their relatives, the responsibility for the care and preservation of the specimens, the implementation of courses in macroscopic anatomy and surgery courses for senior students and clinicians as well as the implementation of the funeral ceremonies.
  • He is the doctor who carries out or is at least responsible for opening a corpse.

Prosector, like taxidermist , whose activities often overlap, is not a protected professional title. Rather, they are licensed doctors who take on the role of a prosector.

Famous prosectors

Famous prosectors were:

See also


  • August Karl Bock : The prosector or instruction in the practical and technical art of dissection for those who want to dedicate themselves particularly to the practical dissection, and for use in the preparation of human parts. 1829.
  • Prosector . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 13, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 415.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. On the history of the anatomical section . (PDF; 1.3 MB)
  2. Meyers Konversationslexikon. 4th edition. Publishing house of the Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892.