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WikiProject Medicine / Pathology (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
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I don't like the sentence, "autopsy is used in clinical medicine to discover medical error". There is no citation and the sentence is too vague. I would like it to be changed to “Autopsies have become a rich source of information that can illuminate medical errors or misdiagnosis’s.” [1]


  1. ^ Tyson, Jon. "Measuring Errors and Adverse Events in Health Care". The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved 9 February 2016.

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)

I like the pictures but I do think they should not be as visually graphic as they are. Yes, that is what happens in autopsies and that is the science behind it, but this may not be suitable for those younger readers who have minds curious enough to venture into learning about scientific methods of analyzation. A possible substitution would be to choose more cartoon or sketched images rather than real life ones. Mattageo (talk) 06:54, 29 January 2017 (UTC)

While the pictures resemble an accurate depiction of what happens during autopsies and are natural forms of the human anatomy, I feel that there are images more suitable for people of all ages.If a younger student is doing school related research on the subject, he or she may panic at the site of intestines lying on the floor. Maybe some sort of warning tag can be implemented. Ryandobie (talk) 23:37, 29 January 2017 (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)

Yes, the links seem to be in working order, however I do feel like there are some other things that should have links. This article very briefly talks about necropsies but then doesn’t provide a link to a suitable source of information about necropsies for those interested in learning more about it. It isn’t a huge deal, but I think little things like this separate a good wiki-page from a great one. Mattageo (talk) 06:55, 29 January 2017 (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)

I think it would be nice to know which type of autopsy is most common, which is second, and so on. This info can help the readers better understand exactly what is going on in society with autopsies and to what extent. Mattageo (talk) 06:56, 29 January 2017 (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?

Are there ever particular instances in which an internal examination is not required for an autopsy? Ryandobie (talk) 00:38, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

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)

Can the term "pathological processes" at the end of the last paragraph be linked? I think extra information on the term could be beneficial. Ryandobie (talk) 00:42, 30 January 2017 (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

I'm not sure if I'm doing this correctly (just created an account), but I don't like the word "kill" diseases... I think the author meant to say advancing medical knowledge to prevent and/or cure diseases. That sounds more educated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dianegrace17 (talkcontribs) 14:42, 4 September 2015 (UTC)

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)

Why not? Please explain.

ee1518 (talk) 18:09, 26 December 2017 (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)

Article Evaluation[edit]

I do believe overall that this article was well written. I think in the important areas, there were sufficient citations used backing up the facts of what was written. I would rate the overall content of this article decently high and since this is a very important article to have on Wikipedia, a well-written article is very important. There are a couple improvements that this article could possibly use. For one, I think that the introductory paragraph needs to have citations. It has very little to know at the moment and it seems a lot of people who visit Wikipedia for information read the introduction and at best, glance through the rest of the article. That is why it is very important to have well cited sentences to be certain that this information is accurate. Another change that this article could potentially use is the different points of view. It was mentioned earlier in the talk page of how it seems the majority of this article is written through the context of the United Kingdom. It would make the article more credible and interesting if autopsies in multiple countries were discussed. This would allow for comparing and contrasting of such practices in these countries. I think one final improvement this article could use was also mentioned before; autopsy in popular culture. Autopsy is clearly an interesting concept and has been discussed and performed multiple times in popular culture. To give some input on how autopsies are performed in various movies and books can give a different point of view for the reader and maybe give a more interesting take on autopsy. Again, an overall very well written article that provides accurate facts to the readers and should give them the information that they were originally searching for. This article helps to better define Wikipedia as a credible source. Kwilcox25 (talk) 00:56, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Article Critique[edit]

I think the ‘Purpose’ section of this article needs a little cleaning up. There is a lot of good information, but it doesn’t seem organized well. The purpose section argues that more autopsies should happen, rather than taking an impartial view as per the wikipedia pillar. I think it needs to be edited down quite a bit or even cut out completely and delegated to other sections of the article. I think more citations would help the article a lot as well. I’m unsure if some of the information is just assumed common knowledge, but a sentence like "For example, a forensic autopsy is carried out when the cause of death may be a criminal matter, while a clinical or academic autopsy is performed to find the medical cause of death and is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death, or for research purposes,” (from the last paragraph before ‘Purpose”) sounds to me like it needs a source.

I think someone made a good point above, that a lot of the information in this article is more UK based, and either the ‘purpose’ needs to get less specific, or a lot more specific outlining autopsy practicing in different countries. Especially when it comes to permission for autopsies. I was under the impression that medical autopsies need approval from the next of kin, or the person themselves always, or at least in the U.S. There is no source for the information that says otherwise in the article, so really the information has no validity. Citation 1 talks about autopsy practices from across the world talks about religious practices, which could almost have its own section as this is definitely another level of autopsy to be discussed.

I think moving forward, the rest of the article has good sections, but the details just need tweaking. Again, more sources to back up this information is important and being more direct and to the point will greatly help this article. Alliharju (talk) 03:31, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Article Evaluation[edit]

This article is very helpful and have lots of information. It divided autopsy type, autopsy process, and some pictures in it. The pictures can helps readers to understand topic. However, this article is not organized well. I think history part have to come first. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Parkeu19 (talkcontribs) 23:25, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

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Other animals[edit]

I think this topic could use some information about the use of necropsy in clinical trials on lab animals, or just more general insight. Its pretty slender.

KaytWitgen (talk) 19:11, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

When reading about the deaths in absentia regarding autopsies within that subject, when I clicked on the source that described what it was, the source page was flagged to have examples of perspective within the article, as well as flagged that it needed citation verification. Although not prevalent in the actual article “Autopsy” I would suggest editing the source page and further double checking to make sure all sources are reliable and up to date. Although everything within the article was relevant to the topic, I found the organization to be a bit distracting. Particularly, ending with the history of autopsies seemed out of order. I would suggest beginning with a general introduction to what an autopsy is, followed with the history and further the different types of autopsies. The section titled “Other animals” should be expanded upon. It states that animal autopsies are more common than human autopsies, yet only a few sentences regarding animal autopsies are present, and it does not display any info regarding autopsies specifically. I would suggest expanding and really making a large section describing these animal autopsies to make this webpage more interesting and a great place to learn! But good article so far! I know I enjoyed reading and learning about various aspects of autopsies! Harejosi (talk) 16:40, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

Article Critique[edit]

When reading about the deaths in absentia regarding autopsies within that subject, when I clicked on the source that described what it was, the source page was flagged to have examples of perspective within the article, as well as flagged that it needed citation verification. Although not prevalent in the actual article “Autopsy” I would suggest editing the source page and further double checking to make sure all sources are reliable and up to date. Although everything within the article was relevant to the topic, I found the organization to be a bit distracting. Particularly, ending with the history of autopsies seemed very out of order. I would suggest beginning with a general introduction to what an autopsy is, followed with the history and further the different types of autopsies. The section titled “Other animals” should be expanded upon. It states that animal autopsies are more common than human autopsies, yet only a few sentences regarding animal autopsies are present, and it does not display any info regarding autopsies specifically. I would suggest expanding and really making a large section describing these animal autopsies to make this webpage more interesting and a great place to learn! But good article so far! I know I enjoyed reading and learning about various aspects of autopsies! Harejosi (talk) 16:43, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

Article Critique[edit]

This article is very well written, informative, and interesting. You stayed on topic very well throughout the whole entire article. One suggestion I have is that you cite your sources for every fact that was given. I found that sometimes there was a fact stated and no credit given for it. The article stayed very neutral which was good because this can be a controversial topic at times. The organization of the article is another thing that had me concerned. I would consider reorganizing the ideas in more of a chronological order. This would make it much easier for the reader to read from start to finish without interruption of thoughts. Where did you research all of this information? Some citations are given but not enough. Also, I believe that the first photo placed in the purpose section would make more sense in the history section. The photos are good. The last section (Other Animals) leaves me curious, it is so little with not much information so what is the point of it? I would expand on this section. Adding specific cases of important autopsies in the history section would also improve this article. This was a very interesting and informative article, a great place to get a lot of information about the subject!Jensent9 (talk) 17:15, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

What happened to the History section?[edit]

It seems to have vanished entirely. It was really poorly written (and even more poorly cited) so did people decide to abandon it rather than attempt to improve it? If someone has the time and motivation, it could be added in again with actual cited facts from some of the following scholarly sources:

Hansma P. The Evolution of the Autopsy. Acad Forensic Pathol. 2015 5(4): 638-49.

Hill RB, Anderson RE. The recent history of the autopsy. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1996 Aug; 120(8):702-12.

King L, Meehan M. A history of the autopsy: a review. Am J Pathol. 1973 Nov. 73(2): 513-44.

Just a thought

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 14:33, 28 September 2017 (UTC)

The content was still there, but the ==History== section heading disappeared in February. I added a new one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:50, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Thanks. I just discovered that one of the articles mentioned above is freely accessible online. I have added a link to it in the External Links section. Perhaps someone with time and motivation can use it to fix up the History section in this wiki article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:19, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

EL section is for things that are useful and relevant but cannot be included in the article; listing the Hansma article above is a fine way to let folks know to consider inclusion of information from it in the article. — soupvector (talk) 20:33, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

Types of autopsy[edit]

From my knowledge there are only two types of autopsy: Forensic and pathological/clinical. The third mentioned, academic, is not referred to as an autopsy, but a dissection (the term autopsy being reserved for such dissections that serve the purpose of investigating the cause and circumstances of death, while in an academic dissection those are known and/or irrelevant). The fourth mentioned is not a type but a method, that can be used in either of the two actual types. They are especially valuable for reliable documentation but also more pleasant to show in court. I shall be enlightened in the case that I am in error, otherwise I hereby assert my intention of editing the article respectively. -ImmernochEkelAlfred(Spam me! (or send me serious messages, whatever...) 15:32, 30 December 2017 (UTC)

I don't disagree, but the current list of types has a citation associated; your comments seem to be based on your own beliefs. The latter could be addressed if you could cite source(s) that indication your list more accurately represents current consensus than what's already in the article. — soupvector (talk) 05:12, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
agree w/ soupvector--Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 11:08, 13 January 2018 (UTC)