What is an autopsy?
An autopsy is an examination of a body after death. Autopsies are performed to determine cause of death, or to verify diagnosis.
Why is an autopsy performed?
Autopsies are performed for several reasons, including the following:
- When a suspicious death occurs, an autopsy is usually ordered.
- An autopsy can be ordered when there is some public health concern, such as a mysterious disease.
- An autopsy may be ordered if someone dies unattended by a physician, or if the attending physician is uncomfortable signing the death certificate.
- The family of the deceased person can ask the hospital to perform an autopsy.
Who performs the autopsy?
Autopsies ordered by the state can be performed by a county coroner, who is not necessarily a physician. A medical examiner who performs an autopsy is usually a pathologist.
How is an autopsy performed?
Autopsy procedure begins with the general and ends with the specific:
- First, a visual examination takes place of the entire body, as well as the organs and internal structures.
- Then, microscopic, chemical, and microbiological examinations may be made of the organs and tissues.
- All organs removed for examination are weighed, and a section is preserved for processing into microscopic slides.
- A final report is made after all laboratory results are complete.