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WikiProject Medicine / Pathology (Rated C-class, High-importance)
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Family's consent[edit]

I don't think it is true any more that a clinical autopsy needs family's consent in the UK. As I understand it a living patient can give their consent for an autospy to be conducted after they die, and then the clinicians can perform it whether or not the family are available for consenting at time of death. I haven't changed the article because I'm not sure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by George.m.savva (talkcontribs) 16:32, 14 August 2008 (UTC)


I'd like to see something that explains what an "inconclusive" autopsy means. -- 05:38, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Post-Mortem Redirection[edit]

post-mortem redirects in here, I don't think it should be that way. I was saying that someone was found guilty post-mortem, and this is forensic info. IMHO it should have its own article and explain the concept more throughfully instead of being just a point in the middle of another concept (ie: autopsy). opinions? -SpiceMan 02:09, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yeah, I was thinking that. Maybe a note or a separate section could be put in the article, or a disambiguation page linking to this article and the Latin definition of post mortem. JD 22:09, 14 May 2006 (UTC)


Why are there two words for what is essentially the same thing? For humans, it seems to be "autopsy", while for other animals it is "necropsy". Is there actually any inherent difference between the two procedures (other than the type of body)? –radiojon 07:29, 2004 Apr 19 (UTC)

The Greek is correct: αὐτοψία autopsía m.e. 11:26, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The Greek isn't really "to see with one's eyes", since the word for "eye" doesn't appear anywhere in the word. It's auto (self) + opsis (sight), meaning something roughly like "to see for oneself". This is consistent with a few dictionaries I spot-checked. --Delirium 15:10, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)

I changed the following sentence "A necropsy is the term for a post-mortem examination performed on an animal or inanimate object, because the prefix 'auto-' means 'self'." Since post-mortem animals are by definition in-animate, it seems overly broad to extend the applcation of necropsy to all inanimate objects (such as rocks, jars or paintbrushes), but it does bring up the question of whether necropsy is the term to employ for a post-mortem examination of plant or vegetative entities which were indeed alive. The closest I can find is phytopathology but this includes the study of the diseases of living plants. Intersofia 15:13, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Image(s) or Not[edit]

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to read up on the subject, though I'm positive Wikipedia has deeply discussed this issue. I have a photograph of a skull autopsy on an elderly woman that I would like to place on this article in hopes of others understanding the procedure more clearly. With proper tags (I.E. Following article includes photograph(s)that depicts blood or something of that nature), would it be alright to post? Actually a better question would be, "What were the decided guidlines for using pictures that depict death, blood, and gore?" --DaemonDivinus 16:27, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

I got the chance to look through various Wikipedia articles on such images (death, blood, and gore). I can't seem to find a solid "Yes, it is O.K." or "No, it is unacceptable". The only potential advice I found was "Censorship should be avoided, if an image adds something to an article". After thinking, I do find the image could benefit the veiwer and is acceptible for usage. Though, the phrase "Censorship should be avoided, if an image adds something to an article" is flexible both ways - so if any other Wikipedian wishes to discuss this more, feel free to put comments on here. — DaemonDivinus 19:26, 30 July 2005 (UTC)
In autopsies, after briefly examining the organs in situ almost everything is taken out of the body. I think the emphasis is on the organs and how they functioned/failed --NOT their removal (as shown in the pictures). The internal organs are mostly examined on a table and that isn't very gory-- or not more than what one sees in a butcher shop.
I think the pictures are contrived to add gore-- but I suppose that isn't a surprise when you consider where they are from. I don't think it is about censorship-- I think the question is "where are they from?" You can get pictures of breasts from a pornographic magazine and from an anatomy text. Nephron 22:11, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

They are from, without any indication as to their copyright status. Hopefully they will be axed because of copyright issues. JFW | T@lk 21:47, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

I think the whole article has to be re-worked... the pictures are just a part of the problem. The emphasis seems to be on cutting (one cuts this and that bla bla bla...) as opposed to looking and understanding. Understanding is what makes it a valuable endevour; if a family member dies unexpectedly an autopsy may provide answers and may help prevent another death. Before autopsies were done the organ system involvement of many diseases were not known or poorly understood. Also, a History of the Autopsy is sorely missing. In particular, I think it is interesting how religion and cultural taboos have influenced our view of it today and, also, how these influenced progress in anatomy and our understanding of physiology, both of which are essential to practise modern medicine. Nephron 06:17, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

Since I felt it possible for someone to stumble across the three more graphic images in the article despite the warning in red, I have moved them to the page Autopsy/Images and included a(n inocuous) link to the page at the start of the Internal Examination section. I hope this is acceptable. I agree that the article needs more about the history of autopsy and especially what there is to be understood rather than merely performed, but unfortunately I am not qualified to write it. For the sake of article length, I suspect three separate articles might be required: History of the Autopsy, Autopsy procedures and Autopsy analysis (or the more appropriate term/s).  David Kernow 23:54, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree with this move. JFW | T@lk 00:19, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Those pictures were very informative. Wikipedia is not about being the nice guy and trying not to offend people. So many stupid people on this site are so easily offended, they forget this site is about information, in all it's dirty, nasty, offensive truth. At least there are links to to the photos. I liked it better when this article wasn't afirad to be honest. Blatantly Evil 17:23, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

is there a warning tag we could put on before any pictures? I definitely see both sides of the argument here, and I against censorship 95% of the time, but in this case maybe there could be a compromise Oreo man 21:59, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Frankly, the image in question is not nearly as inappropriate or excessive as your language. The meningitis image is a great contribution to the article - it depicts the sort of gross pathology finding that is an important part of the autopsy, and is understandable to the casual reader. If you have read to the bottom of a large page about autopsy, you should expect to see images of the procedure itself. -RustavoTalk/Contribs 23:46, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Images are fine, but the picture of the lady adjacent to an opened cadaver is fundamentally wrong. I do not know how to remove the image, but I will implore someone to remove and/or edit the picture. When publishing medical images, we try to show the person in a respectable manner. In the very least, the eyes should be blacked over. There are much better pictures available to illustrate the point. This picture is too crude and inflammatory. Furthermore, it is disrespectiful of the person who donated their body for science. Lastly, the image is of the blond girl doing an autopsy. She is framed in the image. A picture that focused solely on the organs in siute would be much more appropriate. Please remove this image and find a different to illustrate the organs in-situ.

While I am not put-off, per se, by the two graphic images we currently have in this article, I have to say that I find them rather distracting from the paragraphs beside them. I couldn't learn as much about Reconstitution of the body as I would have liked thanks to the exposed brain in my peripheral vision. Perhaps providing links to these two images would be a more reasonable approach. Vranak (talk) 03:49, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Necropsy redirect[edit]

for the record I had Necropsy redirect here, it claimed a slightly different definition that couldn't be verified, plus it was just a dictionary-like entry. I don't suspect it's a problem, but again, for the record. Oreo man 21:58, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

It is a problem. The Autopsy article currently doesn't make it clear that autopsies are never performed on animals; the correct term in this case would be necropsy. In fact, the opening paragraph appears to be lifted practically verbatim from, who got it mostly wrong, too. By using the terms autopsy and necropsy interchangeably, it gives the reader the impression that the terms are synonymous; they are not. Anyone who had paid close attention in medical school could tell you that. —QuicksilverT @ 14:50, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Autopsy in popular culture[edit]

I think it would be educational to add this kind of section in the article. X-files and it's extensive use of autopsies as narrative elements comes to my mind. There must be others, but I am not sure what value such section would add. Opinions? Santtus 17:57, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Computer games sometimes reference such procedures as well, for example the X-COM series, the UFO series which was inspired by X-COM, and occasionally even the Star Trek franchise. This leaves open to question what the correct terminology ought to be for the invasive examination of a corpse which does not originate from the biology of Earth, and wether "necropsy" or even "xenopsy" might, in the future, be agreed upon as a proper term. SithiR (talk) 19:26, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Question about internal examination[edit]

Considering I'm not knowledgeable on theses things, I want to ask is when an internal examination is not required? 13.48 20 mar 2006 (gmt)

you're not going to off someone are you? Well, it varies a lot from place to place. In some places, like my country, everyone gets an autopsy, in other places autopsies are not required if the cause of death is clear or apparent. In some places the family of the deceased may require a mandatory autopsy not be performed, and in some other places the autopsy is only performed if required by the family. Where are you from? Serodio 00:47, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

When is it that an internal examination is not required on a body as I have read somewhere that it is sometimes not required on a person depending the cause of death and which one will it be as I wasn't able to remember that. I once watch a TV show that a corpse is not cut in a Y shape incision but a t-shape why is that?

External exam is forensics specific[edit]

There is some confusion about what is performed in a medical autopsy versus an ME case in this section. Might be good to rework it to make it clears that fingernail clippings etc. are only done in forensics.


Lancet paper on the word. JFW | T@lk 04:33, 27 April 2007 (UTC)


I'm fairly certain that the history of autopsies is more rich than a sentence about Ancient Egyptians gives it credit for. Surely could use some work. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:42, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I have added a comment to the History section referring the reader to Farber (1937). I hope to remove that edit soon and replace it with a more proper overview of Farber's history of the autopsy. Thanks.MorbidAnatomy (talk) 04:06, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

There is a full account available of the inquest into the death of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey in 1678 and references to plague victims from 1665 which seem to indicate a systematic examination which considerably antedate Morgagni.I cannot find a copy of Farber on the Internet.--Streona (talk) 13:30, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

The word "burdened" in "countries burdened with socialized medicine" seems to me to be rather value-loaded and critical of an issue that is less medical and more political. (talk) 23:24, 15 July 2009 (UTC)rei

Obduction - is this really a synonym?[edit]

The opening sentence says that autopsy is also known as obduction. I have found no evidence to back up this claim. The Oxford English Dictionary defines obduction as 'The movement of a lithospheric plate sideways and upwards over the margin of an adjacent plate' (in Geology), along with a couple of definitions of usage which is now obsolete. Unless someone can substantiate this claim, I recommend that it be deleted. Timothy Cooper (talk) 10:12, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

It is definitely a synonym. Cattell (1905) states that Obduction is a German word and is only properly applied when referring to a medico-legal autopsy. It has been my experience (which you'll just have to trust me is extensive) that in the past century the medico-legal specification has been lost and obduction is now understood as a synonym (albeit an archaic one).

By the way, this whole wiki article is a disaster. I only wish I had the time to completely overhaul it. MorbidAnatomy (talk) 23:08, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

I, too, checked this Discussion for "obduction". It surprised me, if it is really a synonym for "autopsy", that I've never run across any uses of it in a hilarious pun. However, MorbidAnatomy *is* correct: Although Google came up empty (, the ever-trusty OneLook struck paydirt ( by pointing to a TFD page ( which defines "obduction" as "a forensic medical autopsy" and cites "Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier". Therefore, this article could use a footnote, and the Wikipedia article on "obduction" should also mention this alternative meaning. I've not done that kind of editing before, so I'll read up on how to do it. Anybody else is welcome to jump in until I get around to it. Rrbeatty (talk) 20:27, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Picture of brain and dura mater[edit]

I think that photograph is upside-down. It should be rotated 180 degrees. MorbidAnatomy (talk) 02:33, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Fluorescent lights[edit]

I removed the following text from the "Purpose" section. I don't know whether it's true or not, but if it is true, it should not be in the Purpose section.

An autopsy must never be performed under fluorescent lights[citation needed].

-- WhiteDragon (talk) 14:20, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Other PoVs[edit]

It seems to me that the point of view of this article is too heavily focused on the United Kingdom. I'm sure that other jurisdictions have different legislation and processes, and it would be informative and more complete to explore these, either in this or a separate article. Similar sections are found in other legal topics, such as Murder, Theft, Jury, etc. (talk) 23:18, 24 July 2013 (UTC)