How is human autopsy performed? Full human body anatomy autopsy (VIDEO)

An autopsy (also known as a post-mortem examination or necropsy) is the examination of the body of a dead person and is performed primarily to determine the cause of death, to identify or characterize the extent of disease states that the person may have had, or to determine whether a particular medical or surgical treatment has been effective. Autopsies are performed by pathologists, medical doctors who have received specialty training in the diagnosis of diseases by the examination of body fluids and tissues. In academic institutions, autopsies sometimes are also requested for teaching and research purposes. Forensic autopsies have legal implications and are performed to determine if death was an accident, homicide, suicide, or a natural event. The word autopsy is derived from the Greek word autopsia: “to see with one’s own eyes.”


Autopsy facts
  • An autopsy is the examination of the body of a dead person.
  • An autopsy may be restricted to a specific organ or region of the body.
  • Autopsies are performed to determine the cause of death, for legal purposes, and for education and research.
  • The body is opened in a manner that does not interfere with an open casket service.
  • The autopsy rate has dropped from 50% to less than 10% over the past fifty years.

How is an autopsy performed?
They start by photographing you inside a body bag, noting your clothing and its position before stripping you naked. They try to establish your identity, noting ethnicity, gender, age, and hair and eye color. Then they collect samples of hair, fingernails and any foreign objects found on your surface.

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Once the external exam is done, they clean your body, weigh it and measure it. On the table they place a rubber body block under your back to make your chest protrude forward so the arms and neck fall back. This makes it easier… for the cutting!

For a complete internal exam they start with the chest, making a Y-shaped incision. Following this, they peel back your skin, muscle and soft tissue with a scalpel, pull the chest flap over your face and expose your ribcage and neck muscles.

Your ribcage is then removed, followed by your larynx, esophagus, arteries and ligaments. By severing a few attachments to your spinal cord, bladder, and rectum, the examiner can remove the rest of your organs as an entire set.

Your organs are each examined and weighed, with sample slices taken of their tissue. If necessary, these organs are stored in formalin. Depending on how you died, they probably won’t cut open your arms, hands, legs or face.

But don’t think your head is off the hook just yet. If they need a peek inside your noggin, the examiner will move the rubber block under your neck like a pillow. Then they make a cut from behind one ear, across your forehead, over to the other ear and around the back.

Then out comes the electric saw to pop the top of your skull off like a cap and expose your brain. This is severed from your spinal cord and then lifted out, Frankenstein style. Just like your other organs, it’s weighed and examined.

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What happens to all of those organs, sitting outside of your body anyway? Well, depending on the style of funeral, they’re either put back in or incinerated. Either way, the butterflied chest flaps are closed, the skull cap is placed back on your head and everything is sewn up nice and tidy with a baseball stitch.

Though even after your body goes off to the funeral home, a pathologist’s work is never done. It takes days to get tissue and blood samples tested and at least two weeks for brain samples. Then it takes hours more to write up a detailed report for the official record.

Keep in mind that this is a brief overview of the autopsy process. We didn’t even get into examining wounds, determining the time of death, or what tools of the trade are used to crack you open.

Watch the below video for more: