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Definition of «Autopsy»


Autopsy: A postmortem examination. Also called a necropsy.

Autopsies have been done for more than 2,000 years but during most of this time they were rarely done, and then only for legal purposes. The Roman physician Antistius performed one of the earliest autopsies on record. In 44 B.C., he examined Julius Caesar and documented 23 wounds, including a final fatal stab to the chest. In 1410, the Catholic Church itself ordered an autopsy -- on Pope Alexander V, to determine whether his successor had poisoned him. No evidence of this was found.

By the turn of the 20th century, prominent physicians such as Rudolf Virchow in Berlin, Karl Rokitansky in Vienna, and William Osler in Baltimore won popular support for the practice. They defended it as a tool of discovery, one that was needed to identify the cause of tuberculosis, reveal how to treat appendicitis, and establish the existence of Alzheimer disease. They showed that autopsies prevented errors -- that, without autopsies, doctors could not know when their diagnoses were incorrect. Most deaths were a mystery then, and perhaps what clinched the argument was the notion that autopsies could provide families with answers -- give the story of a loved one's life a comprehensible ending. By the end of the Second World War, the autopsy was firmly established as a routine part of death in North America and Europe.

For more information, see Autopsy (Postmortem Examination). And see "The Final Cut" by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker magazine of March 17, 2001.

For More Information «Autopsy»

  • autopsy: West's Encyclopedia of American Law (Full Article ...

    Library > Literature & Language > Dictionary ( ô ' tŏp ' sē, ô ' təp- ) n. , pl. , -sies . Examination of a cadaver to determine or confirm the cause of death ...

  • Autopsy - The Pathology Guy

    Autopsy By Ed Friedlander, M.D., Pathologist scalpel_blade@yahoo.com No texting or chat messages, please. Ordinary e-mails are welcome. This website collects no information.

  • Autopsy (Post Mortem Examination) Information by MedicineNet.com

    Who Has Access to Autopsy Information. Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD. Viewer Question: Who has access to the information ...

  • Autopsy (2008) - IMDb

    With Michael Bowen, Robert Patrick, Jessica Lowndes, Ashley Schneider. A young woman tries to find her injured boyfriend in a bizzare and dangerous hospital. Director ...

  • HowStuffWorks "How Autopsies Work"

    The first in a series of three videos, The Autopsy, Chapter One: Unraveling Life's Mysteries brings you up close and personal as you observe the performance of three ...

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