Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology


Brain and spinal cord retrieval for research: report by the HTA July 2016

The HTA regulates establishments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that store bodies prior to post-mortem (PM) examination, conduct PM examinations and remove tissue samples (relevant material) from the deceased, for example for use in research.

Removal of tissue from the deceased must take place on premises licensed for this activity by the HTA.  The HTA licenses around 175 establishments for the removal of tissue. These include public mortuaries managed by Councils and hospital mortuaries within NHS Trusts.

Concerns were raised with the HTA that brain banks may be experiencing increased difficulties in retrieving brain tissue for use in research, particularly when death occurs at the weekend. This has resulted in one of the major brain banks closing down its 24-hour help line for families of donors.

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