An autopsy, also known as a post-mortem examination, is a specialized surgical procedure used to determine the cause and manner of death. The cause of death is the medical reason explaining why a patient passed.
According to Wikipedia:
An autopsy (also referred to as post-mortem examination, obduction, necropsy, or autopsia cadaverum) is a surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode, and manner of death; or the exam may be performed to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes. For animals, the term necropsy is generally reserved.
Autopsies are usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist. Only a small portion of deaths require an autopsy to be performed, under certain circumstances. In most cases, a medical examiner or coroner can determine the cause of death.
Purposes of performance
Autopsies are performed for either legal or medical purposes. Autopsies can be performed when any of the following information is desired:
- Manner of death must be determined
- Determine if death was natural or unnatural
- Injury source and extent on the corpse
- Post mortem interval
- Determining the deceased’s identity
- Retain relevant organs
- If it is an infant, determine live birth and viability
For example, a forensic autopsy is carried out when the cause of death may be a criminal matter, while a clinical or academic autopsy is performed to find the medical cause of death and is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death, or for research purposes. Autopsies can be further classified into cases where an external examination suffices, and those where the body is dissected and an internal examination is conducted. Permission from next of kin may be required for internal autopsy in some cases. Once an internal autopsy is complete, the body is reconstituted by sewing it back together.
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