What is an autopsy?

“Autopsy” comes from the Greek autopsia 'act of seeing with one's own eyes’. Webster's Dictionary defines autopsy as 'an examination of a body after death to determine the cause of death or the character and extent of changes produced by disease'. Today autopsy fundamentally means the same thing however, seeing for oneself includes an external, internal and microscopic examination of the major systems of the body.


Why should an autopsy be performed?

There can be many reasons for having an autopsy. To determine the extent of Disease. To determine the cause of death. To diagnose the specific type of dementia. Peace of mind and closure

Who performs the autopsy?

A licensed pathologist and an autopsy technician

Where does the porcedure take place?

Most of the autopsies take place at the funeral home that the family has chosed to provide the funeral arrangements

How soon after death does an autopsy need to be performed?

Ideally it is best to do the procedure as soon as possible after death has occurred. In some cases that is not possible and an autopsy can still be performed as long as the body has been refrigerated properly

Is my family’s privacy protected?

Absolutely. Autopsy Pathology Services keeps all findings and records confidential. We only provide additional copies of reports to whom the next of kin has authorized with written consent

If the cause of death has already been determined are there times when an autopsy is warranted?

Yes, there may be more questions than answers even when the death certificate has been completed. An autopsy can provide answers to those questions.

Will an autopsy affect funeral arrangements?

We work with each family and funeral home to coordinate the autopsy so that it does not interrupt or interfere with any arrangements that are made

Is an open casket funeral still possible after an autopsy is performed?

Yes, the autopsy does not disfigure the decedent in anyway, shape or form. The family may continue with viewing and/or open casket funeral if they wish

Is it possible for a limited autopsy to be performed?

Yes, the family may limit or restrict the autopsy to any specific region, organ or tissue which they deem necessary

How long does the process take

The actual procedure takes anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours depending on the nature of that particular case

Will there be a written report and how long does it take?

Yes, there are two written reports for a non-neuropath (brain) autopsies. First is the PAD which stands for "Preliminary Anatomical Diagnosis", this is completed within 5 business days after the autopsy is completed. The second is the final report which is completed within 45 to 60 days after the completed autopsy. This include's everything that was discovered from the autopsy,microscopic examination included, of all normal findings as well as all abnormal findings and a diagnosis summary of the final findings