Autopsy

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, (1632) by Rembrandt, depicts an autopsy.
Dissection room at the University of Helsinki in 1928.
Autopsy room of the Charité Berlin
Pathologist performing a human dissection of the abdominal and thoracic organs in an autopsy room.
Cadaver dissection tables are similar to those used in medical or forensic autopsies.
A brain autopsy demonstrating signs of meningitis. The forceps (center) are retracting the dura mater (white). Underneath the dura mater are the leptomeninges, which appear to be edematous and have multiple small hemorrhagic foci.
Autopsy a brain after sectioning, showing a normal brain with the cerebrum cut in coronal sections, and the cerebellum, pons and medulla cut in horizontal sections. Standard sections for microscopic examination are annotated.
Cavitation at gross pathology of an old stroke in the left posterior parietal lobe.
Histopathology at high magnification of a normal neuron, and an ischemic stroke at approximately 24 hours on H&E stain: The neurons become hypereosinophilic and there is an infiltrate of neutrophils. There is slight edema and loss of normal architecture in the surrounding neuropil.
Dissection, 19th century US.
Autopsy (1890) by Enrique Simonet.
A field post-mortem exam of a ewe.
Micrograph showing cortical pseudolaminar necrosis, a finding seen in strokes on medical imaging and at autopsy. H&E-LFB stain.
Micrograph of the superficial cerebral cortex showing neuron loss and reactive astrocytes in a person that has had a stroke. H&E-LFB stain.

Surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode, and manner of death or to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes.

- Autopsy
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, (1632) by Rembrandt, depicts an autopsy.

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A pathologist examines a tissue section for evidence of cancerous cells while a surgeon observes.

Pathology

Study of the causes and effects of disease or injury.

Study of the causes and effects of disease or injury.

A pathologist examines a tissue section for evidence of cancerous cells while a surgeon observes.
The advent of the microscope was one of the major developments in the history of pathology. Here researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in 1978 examine cultures containing Legionella pneumophila, the pathogen responsible for Legionnaire's disease.
A modern pathology lab at the Services Institute of Medical Sciences
A bone marrow smear from a case of erythroleukemia. The large cell in the top center is an abnormal erythroblast: it is multinucleated, with megaloblastoid nuclear chromatin This is diagnostic of erythroleukemia.
A malignant melanoma can often be suspected from sight, but confirmation of the diagnosis or outright removal requires an excisional biopsy.
Pathologist performing a human dissection of the abdominal and thoracic organs in an autopsy room
An instance of diagnosis via histopathology, this high-magnification micrograph of a section of cardiac tissue reveals advanced cardiac amyloidosis. This sample was attained through an autopsy.
This coronal cross-section of a brain reveals a significant arteriovenous malformation that occupies much of the parietal lobe.
This tissue cross-section demonstrates the gross pathology of polycystic kidneys.
Brain biopsy under stereotaxy. A small part of the tumor is taken via a needle with a vacuum system.
Clinical chemistry: an automated blood chemistry analyzer
Many conditions, such as this case of geographic tongue, can be diagnosed partly on gross examination, but may be confirmed with tissue pathology.
An anatomical pathology instructor uses a microscope with multiple eyepieces to instruct students in diagnostic microscopy.
This field post-mortem of a ewe has revealed lesions consistent with acute haemolytic pneumonia, possibly due to Pasteurella haemolytica.
A tobacco plant infected with the tobacco mosaic virus

Anatomical pathology (Commonwealth) or anatomic pathology (United States) is a medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the gross, microscopic, chemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs, tissues, and whole bodies (as in a general examination or an autopsy).

Coroner

Government or judicial official who is empowered to conduct or order an inquest into the manner or cause of death, and to investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner's jurisdiction.

Government or judicial official who is empowered to conduct or order an inquest into the manner or cause of death, and to investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner's jurisdiction.

When the death is suspected to have been either sudden with unknown cause, violent, or unnatural, the coroner decides whether to hold a post-mortem examination and, if necessary, an inquest.

The human skull is used universally as a symbol of death

Death

Irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain an organism.

Irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain an organism.

The human skull is used universally as a symbol of death
Statue of Death, personified as a human skeleton dressed in a shroud and clutching a scythe, from the Cathedral of Trier in Trier, Germany
Death tending to his flowers, in Kuoleman Puutarha, Hugo Simberg (1906)
World Health Organization estimated number of deaths per million persons in 2012
A flower, a skull and an hourglass stand for life, death and time in this 17th-century painting by Philippe de Champaigne
French – 16th-/17th-century ivory pendant, Monk and Death, recalling mortality and the certainty of death (Walters Art Museum)
Timeline of postmortem changes (stages of death).
Antoine Wiertz's painting of a man buried alive
American children smoking in 1910. Tobacco smoking caused an estimated 100 million deaths in the 20th century.
Le Suicidé by Édouard Manet depicts a man who has recently committed suicide via a firearm
An autopsy is portrayed in The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, by Rembrandt
Dead Camelthorn tree within Sossusvlei
Technicians prepare a body for cryopreservation in 1985.
Kyösti Kallio (in the middle), the fourth President of the Republic of Finland, had a fatal heart attack a few seconds after this photograph was taken by Hugo Sundström on December 19, 1940 at Helsinki railway station in Helsinki, Finland.
The regent duke Charles (later king Charles IX of Sweden) insulting the corpse of Klaus Fleming. Albert Edelfelt, 1878
Dead bodies can be mummified either naturally, as this one from Guanajuato, or by intention, as those in ancient Egypt
Gravestones in Kyoto, Japan
All is Vanity by Charles Allan Gilbert is an example of a memento mori, intended to represent how life and death are intertwined
Santa Muerte, the personification of death in Mexican tradition
Earthworms are soil-dwelling detritivores
A dodo, the bird that became a byword in the English language for the extinction of a species
Illustration depicting Hindu beliefs about reincarnation
A yahrzeit candle lit in memory of a loved one on the anniversary of the death
Study of Skeletons, c. 1510, by Leonardo da Vinci

An autopsy, also known as a postmortem examination or an obduction, is a medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a human corpse to determine the cause and manner of a person's death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present.

Histopathology: microscopic appearance of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. The slide is stained with Haematoxylin & Eosin.

Anatomical pathology

Medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the macroscopic, microscopic, biochemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs and tissues.

Medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the macroscopic, microscopic, biochemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs and tissues.

Histopathology: microscopic appearance of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. The slide is stained with Haematoxylin & Eosin.
Histopathology: microscopic appearance of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. The slide is stained with an antibody (immunohistochemistry) against the oncogene Her2neu. The dark-brown reaction indicates that this tumor over-expresses this gene.
Cytopathology: microscopic appearance of a Pap test. The pink cell at the center with a large nucleus is abnormal, compatible with low-grade dysplasia.
Autopsy: a brain surrounded by pus (the yellow-greyish coat around the brain, under the dura lifted by the forceps), the result of bacterial meningitis.
Gross examination: appearance of the cut surface of a lung showing the honeycomb pattern of end-stage pulmonary fibrosis.
Gross examination: appearance of a colorectal polyp (the cauliflower-shaped tumor) attached to the colon mucosa (the horizontal line at the bottom).

Over the last century, surgical pathology has evolved tremendously: from historical examination of whole bodies (autopsy) to a more modernized practice, centered on the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer to guide treatment decision-making in oncology.

CT scan of the brain showing a prior right-sided ischemic stroke from blockage of an artery. Changes on a CT may not be visible early on.

Stroke

Medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death.

Medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death.

CT scan of the brain showing a prior right-sided ischemic stroke from blockage of an artery. Changes on a CT may not be visible early on.
There are two main categories of strokes. Ischemic (top), typically caused by a blood clot in an artery (1a) resulting in brain death to the affected area (2a). Hemorrhagic (bottom), caused by blood leaking into or around the brain from a ruptured blood vessel (1b) allowing blood to pool in the affected area (2b) thus increasing the pressure on the brain.
A slice of brain from the autopsy of a person who had an acute middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke
CT scan of an intraparenchymal bleed (bottom arrow) with surrounding edema (top arrow)
Illustration of an embolic stroke, showing a blockage lodged in a blood vessel.
Histopathology at high magnification of a normal neuron, and an ischemic stroke at approximately 24 hours on H&E stain: The neurons become hypereosinophilic and there is an infiltrate of neutrophils. There is slight edema and loss of normal architecture in the surrounding neuropil.
A CT showing early signs of a middle cerebral artery stroke with loss of definition of the gyri and grey white boundary
Dens media sign in a patient with middle cerebral artery infarction shown on the left. Right image after 7 hours.
12-lead ECG of a patient with a stroke, showing large deeply inverted T-waves. Various ECG changes may occur in people with strokes and other brain disorders.
Walking with an orthosis after a stroke
Stroke deaths per million persons in 2012
Hippocrates first described the sudden paralysis that is often associated with stroke.

In deceased people, an autopsy of stroke may help establishing the time between stroke onset and death.

Pottery, dishes, and other miscellaneous items from the embalming cache of Tutankhamun.

Embalming

Art and science of preserving human remains by treating them to forestall decomposition.

Art and science of preserving human remains by treating them to forestall decomposition.

Pottery, dishes, and other miscellaneous items from the embalming cache of Tutankhamun.
William Hunter developed and popularized the modern technique of arterial embalming in the late 18th century.
Embalming fluids used in the early 20th century.
Instruments used for embalming
Tank containing embalming fluid
Restoration tools, Museum of Funeral Customs
Abraham Lincoln, detail from a carte de visite (photo caption from book, retouched post mortem photograph by John B. Bachelder, Washington, DC, 16 April 1865)

In certain instances a funeral director will request a specific style of clothing, such as a collared shirt or blouse, to cover traumatic marks or autopsy incisions.

Corpses of Parisian Communards

Cadaver

Dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being.

Dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being.

Corpses of Parisian Communards
Timeline of postmortem changes (stages of death).
Cadaver in Refrigerator in the Forensic Medicine at the Charité Berlin
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt shows an anatomy lesson taking place in Amsterdam in 1632.
Embalmer at work
Railings used to protect graves from body snatchers
Burke Murdering Margery Campbell

A simple autopsy of a cadaver can help determine origins of deadly diseases or disorders.

Manner of death

Determination, typically made by the coroner, medical examiner, police, or similar officials, and recorded as a vital statistic.

Determination, typically made by the coroner, medical examiner, police, or similar officials, and recorded as a vital statistic.

In some cases an autopsy is performed, either due to general legal requirements, because the medical cause of death is uncertain, upon the request of family members or guardians, or because the circumstances of death were suspicious.

A hilt fitting from the Staffordshire hoard, which was declared to be treasure in September 2009

Inquests in England and Wales

Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden or unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of and discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove".

Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden or unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of and discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove".

A hilt fitting from the Staffordshire hoard, which was declared to be treasure in September 2009

Where the cause of death is unknown, the coroner may order a post mortem examination in order to determine whether the death was violent.

Schematic of construction of a cylindrical superconducting MR scanner

Magnetic resonance imaging

Medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body.

Medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body.

Schematic of construction of a cylindrical superconducting MR scanner
A mobile MRI unit visiting Glebefields Health Centre, Tipton, England
Effects of TR and TE on MR signal
Examples of T1-weighted, T2-weighted and PD-weighted MRI scans
Patient being positioned for MR study of the head and abdomen
MRI diffusion tensor imaging of white matter tracts
MR angiogram in congenital heart disease
Magnetic resonance angiography
Motion artifact (T1 coronal study of cervical vertebrae)

Forensic imaging provides graphic documentation of an autopsy, which manual autopsy does not.