post-mortem examination or autopsy, 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 genetic causes, and for family counsel. Post-mortems may be performed at the request of the authorities in cases of unexplained and suspicious death or where death was not attended by a physician. In other circumstances post-mortem examination may be performed only with the consent of the deceased's family or with permission granted by the person himself before death. These examinations are more frequently being used for the acquiring of organs and tissues for transplantation. Valuable medical information can be learned from a post-mortem examination. Legionnaire's disease, for example, was discovered as a result of autopsies, and improved safety standards have resulted from the examination of the bodies of crash victims.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
(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).
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
A postmortem examination of the body to determine cause of death.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
dissection and examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005