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Synonyms: post-mortem examination, obduction
German: Obduktion

1 Definition

An autopsy is the process of dissecting a human corpse in order to determine the cause of death.

2 Types

Autopsies can be divided into:

  • clinical autopsies: to clarify the cause of death and for quality assurance. The family members' consent is required.
  • medico-legal autopsies: if there is a suspicious death or the cause of death is unknown.
    • Legal situation in Germany: A court order is required to perform this type of autopsy. Two physicians – one of whom must be a forensic doctor – perform the autopsy under judicial supervision.
  • anatomical autopsies: are usually not performed to determine the cause of death but rather for scientific or educational purposes. An anatomical autopsy can only be performed if the deceased person's will allows it.
  • Less frequent types of autopsies are exhumations, autopsies performed by insurance companies and autopsies performed on patients with infectious diseases.

This page was last edited on 11 April 2017, at 08:05.

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