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autopsy:see post-mortem examinationpost-mortem examination
systematic examination of a cadaver for study or for determining the cause of death. Post-mortems use many methodical procedures to determine the etiology and pathogenesis of diseases, for epidemologic purposes, for establishment of
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(section, obduction), the examination of a corpse in order to clarify the nature of the morbid changes and establish the cause of death.
Autopsies maybe either pathologicoanatomical or medicolegal; the first explores death from various diseases in a medical facility, while the latter refers to deaths that may be ascribed to violent or criminal action and that are ordered investigated by legal authorities. Autopsy plays an enormous role in instruction and refinement of the physician’s knowledge (as a check for the validity of diagnosis and treatment). Autopsies are also used as a basis for the exploration of problems in thanatology and resuscitation and the statistical indexes of mortality and lethality. Data from medicolegal autopsies have an important and sometimes decisive influence in court. Pathologicoanatomical autopsy is carried out by a pathological anatomist-physician (prosector) in specially equipped institutions attached to clinics or hospitals; medicolegal autopsies are performed by an expert in forensic medicine at the morgue. Autopsies are performed according to a prescribed method, and the findings are presented either in an autopsy report (for pathologicoanatomical autopsy) or a legal statement (for medicolegal autopsy).
V. V. SEROV