An autopsy is a medical procedure involving the examination of a dead body. An autopsy is sometimes termed an obduction or a post-mortem examination. The word autopsy is derived from the Greek word autopsia, which means "to see with one's own eyes."
Autopsies are performed by pathologists, medical doctors who have received specialty training in the diagnosis of diseases by the examination of body fluids and tissues.
Autopsies are performed for a variety of reasons, including:
- to determine the cause of death
- to ascertain whether clinical diagnoses are correct
- to evaluate the effectiveness of medical or surgical treatment
- to gain information for the family about possible inherited or genetic conditions
- for teaching and/or research purposes in academic hospitals
- to aid in criminal investigations of wrongful death
- to provide closure and reassurance for family members who may have questions about diagnoses or treatment
Forensic autopsies are a specialized form of autopsy with legal implications that are performed to determine if a given death was an accident, homicide, suicide, or a natural event.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2014
Must Read Articles Related to Autopsy
Carcinoid Lung Tumor
Carcinoid lung tumors are an uncommon group of lung tumors. A carcinoid lung tumor can not be classified as benign or malignant. They are often referred to as "...learn more >>
A heart attack is an interruption in blood flow to the heart muscle. Arterial plaque rupture is often the cause of a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack ma...learn more >>
Mad Cow Disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob
Mad cow is an infectious disease in the brain of cattle. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the human form of mad cow disease. Symptoms and signs include musc...learn more >>