An autopsy is an examination of a body after death. Autopsies are performed to determine cause of death, or to verify diagnosis.
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.
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.
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.
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