Clinical autopsy rate have been declining since the 1950s, but it remains a useful investigation tool.
Through six examples of our experience, we underline its interest for clinical, didactic and public health purposes.
We try to understand the reasons for its decline and, as demonstrated, it can be attributed to a number of factors. These need to be addressed in order to reassert the status of the autopsy as an investigation and audit tool which is crucial to the future effectiveness of modern medicine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autopsy examination has been the bedrock of western medicine. With the decline in the autopsy rate secondary to the negative psychological impact to the deceased's relatives, the benefits of autopsy have been undermined. Minimally invasive autopsy has been introduced but has not been widely adopted as an alternative to the 'traditional' open approach. This technique not only provides information on the cause of death abut also minimizes the disfigurement induced to the deceased. Our study aims to explore the feasibility and evaluate the accuracy of this technique.
A series of coroner cases ordered for autopsy were examined by a group including an experienced forensic pathologist and two experienced laparoscopic surgeons using thoracoscopic, laparoscopic, endoluminal or endovascular approaches. The procedure was video-recorded and the provisional diagnoses and causes of death were made based on the findings. These findings were subsequently correlated with the full autopsy examination. A few limited clinical post-mortem examinations were also performed with consent from relatives.
A total of 22 cases of minimally invasive autopsies were performed from November 2007 to March 2008. The median duration of the procedures was 78.3+/-20.7 min. Thoracoscopies and laparoscopies were performed in 18 patients while additional arterioscopic examination with endoscope was performed in two patients with suspected aortic diseases. Four consented limited clinical autopsies were also performed: two of them involved thoracoscopic biopsies of lung tissues, one was a para-mortem upper endoscopy for the investigation of pathology of the stomach and the other one was laparoscopy for a patient, who died of unexplained acidosis. Comparison with full autopsies showed that the accuracy of the diagnosis was 94.4%, the sensitivity was 90%, the specificity was 100%, the positive predictive value was 100% and the negative predictive value was 88.9%.
Minimally invasive autopsy is a feasible approach, yielding accurate findings when compared with conventional autopsies. The former can be a valuable tool for obtaining more valuable information in situations when the next-of-kin of the deceased does not consent to a conventional autopsy.
Forensic science international 02/2010; 195(1-3):93-8. DOI:10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.11.019 · 2.14 Impact Factor
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