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Post-Mortem Examination or Autopsy

Last Updated on Feb 06, 2016
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Autopsy takes birth from the Greek word autopsia: "to see with one's own eyes."

Autopsy (post-mortem examination or obduction or necropsy) is a medical procedure involving the examination of the body of a dead person to determine the cause and manner of death and to assess any disease or injury that may be present. Autopsies are either performed for legal or medical purposes. When the cause of death is a criminal matter, a forensic autopsy is performed. A clinical or academic autopsy is done to find the medical cause of death and is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death. Autopsy may also be done for research purposes. Evidences state that autopsies were performed as early as in 3,000 BC by the Egyptians.

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Purpose of Autopsy

The prime aim is to determine of the cause of death, the condition of health of the person before he or she died, and whether any medical diagnosis and treatment before death was appropriate.

Autopsy or Post-mortem Examination

Autopsies may be carried out for the purposes of teaching or medical research when a person has given permission in advance of their death, Cases of sudden death, where a doctor is not able to write a death certificate, or when death is believed to result from an unnatural cause warrant autopsy. Such an autopsy is legal and performed under a legal authority; the consent of relatives of the deceased is not required.

Autopsies reveal medical errors and missed diagnoses thus help in improving the quality of care and diagnosis.

References:

  1. The Essentials of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. Dr. K. S. Narayan Reddy

Latest Publications and Research on Autopsy

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srmcurology

Did you know that Legionnaire's disease was discovered as a result of autopsy. In 1976 34 of the 221 delegates died when they attended an American Legion conference in Philadelphia. Food poisoning was ruled out and after this it became apparent that they had inhaled a bacterium Legionella on autopsies.

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