However, a new anthropological study from the University of Cambridge offers fascinating details about another common, but poorly documented, area of human medical history.
The paper, which was published in the Journal of Anatomy this week, traces the history of using infants and foetuses for dissection purposes, along with a catalogue of differences between how doctors dissected the smaller corpses versus the larger, more adult ones.
Infants and foetuses were prized for their contributions to medical fields of study in the realms of growth, development, and in diseases that could bring about early deaths.
Foetal and infant bodies were clearly valued by anatomists, illustrated by the measures taken to preserve the remains intact and undamaged, said Jenna Dittmar, a co-author on the study.
These bodies made wide-ranging contributions in the medical field.
Their size and stage in development made it possible for students to analyse the anatomy of the nervous and circulatory systems the bodies were injected with coloured wax and displayed .