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MEDICO

LEGAL
AUTOPSY
AN OVERVIEW

WHAT IS AN AUTOPSY?
Autopsia (Greek)
Auto Self, Opsia seeing
Other names: Post mortem examination
Necropsy (Animals)
Definition:
-thorough examination of a dead body
- to determine the cause and manner of
death and
- to evaluate any disease or injury that
may be present.

TYPES OF AUTOPSY
1. Medico legal autopsy
2. Clinical/Hospital autopsy.

Difference between medico legal & clinical


autopsy:
Trait

Medico legal

Clinical

Objective

Help in investigation

Academic purpose

Authority

Investigating authority

Treating doctor

Consent

Not necessary

Must

Doctor

Forensic pathologist/
RMP

Pathologist along with


treating doctor

Dissection Always complete

Can be partial

Who can conduct medico legal


autopsy?
Forensic pathologist: To help in
investigation of death.
Any R.M.P. can conduct medico legal
autopsy.
Usually limited to Govt. Hospitals.
Medico legal work cant be denied,
delayed or referred.
Can take help of post mortem assistant /
diener.

History:

Egypt Mummification (3000 B.C.E.)


India Shushruta (600 B.C.E.)
China 16 C.E.
Japan 456 C.E.
Arabian countries Condemned.
Europe
Greece Herophilos, Erasistratus (335 250
B.C.E.)
Romans 1st official autopsy Julius Caesar
(44 B.C.E.)
- Frederic II(1194 -1250 C.E.) 1st law
authorizing autopsies.
continue

History:
Europe:
Romans Varignana (1302 C.E.) 1st
medico legal autopsy.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519)
France Andraes Vesalius (1514 -1564)
students
Italy Morgagni (1682 -1771)
America
1st autopsy 1525 , on conjoined twins.
19th & 20th Centuries: Rokitansky, Bichat,
Osler, Virchow.

Objectives:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Cause of death
How the injuries occurred
Manner of death
Time since death
Identity
Collect physical evidence

Benefits:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Physician & health care organization


Family of the deceased
Public health
Medical discovery & applied clinical
research
5. Basic biomedical research
6. Medical education
7. Law enforcement.

Where to be conducted?
Morgue /Mortuary:

Instruments required -

Instruments required -

Ideal time:
Natural Vs Artificial light
India Rules regarding night post mortem
examination.

Which cases are send for medico


legal autopsy?
Un natural deaths
Natural deaths Cause of death not
known
Suspicious deaths.

Procedure:
1. Death reported to police.

Procedure:
2. Preparation of inquest
panchnama

Procedure:
3. Body send to mortuary:

Procedure:
Prerequisites:
1. Inquest panchnama
2. Requisition from investigating authority or
Magistrate.
3. Identification by accompanying police.

Autopsy report:
A}

General particulars:
1. Name, address.
2. By whom was the corpse sent?
3. Name of place from which sent?
4. By whom identified?
5. Date & time of autopsy
6. Substance of accompanying police
report, supposed cause of death.

Autopsy report:
B} External Examination:
a) Examination of clothes
b) Identification marks, dental status
c) Post mortem changes
d) Condition of the skin
e) Natural orifices
e) Surface Injuries
f) Fractures
g) Injuries: Ante mortem or Post mortem?

a) Examination of clothes
1. Stains: Blood stains Injury.
Saliva stains Hanging
Mud stains Site of death
Vomit Poisoning cases
Oil, grease stains RTA
2. Dry or wet? Drowning.
3. Damages Tears, cut marks
4. Identification Laundry mark, Tailor/
company label etc.

b) Identification marks
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Tattoo marks
Old scars
Any malformation
Any peculiarity
Dental status

c) Post mortem changes:


1. Rigor Mortis:

c) Post mortem changes:


2. Post mortem lividity

c) Post mortem changes:


2. Post mortem lividity

c) Post mortem changes:


3. Cooling of the body

C) Post mortem changes


4. Changes in the eyes

C) Post mortem changes


4. Changes in the eyes

C) Post mortem changes:


5. Signs of decomposition

C) Post mortem changes:


5. Signs of decomposition

C) Post mortem changes:


5. Signs of decomposition

C) Post mortem changes:


5. Signs of decomposition

D) Condition of natural orifices

E) Surface Injuries
Description of Injury:
1. Nature of Injury
2. Situation over body
3. Size
4. Any peculiarity
5. Age
E.g. An incised wound present over back of
left forearm middle 1/3rd, 6cm below back
of elbow, of size 3cm X 0.5cm X Muscle
deep, fresh.

F) Ante mortem or post mortem


1.
2.
3.
4.

Haemorrhage
Signs of inflammation
Signs of healing
Signs of infection.

F) Ante mortem or post mortem

INTERNAL EXAMINATION:
Incisions:
1. To open cranial cavity
2. To open thoracic & abdominal cavity.

Cranial cavity:
Extending from one mastoid process to other,
passing through vertex.

Cranial cavity:

Under scalp haematoma:

Epidural hematoma

Subdural hematoma

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

Skull fractures

Skull fractures

Skull fractures

Opening thoracic & abdominal


cavity:

Opening thoracic & abdominal


cavity:

Opening thoracic & abdominal


cavity:

Opening thoracic & abdominal


cavity:

Opening thoracic & abdominal


cavity:

Opening of spine & spinal cord:

Opening of spine & spinal cord:

Dissection of individual organs:


1. Brain:

Dissection of individual organs:


1. Brain:

Dissection of individual organs:


1. Brain:

Dissection of individual organs:


2. Heart:

Dissection of individual organs:


2. Heart:

Dissection of individual organs:


2. Heart:

Dissection of individual organs


Lungs

Dissection of individual organs


Kidneys:

Dissection of individual organs:


Liver

Dissection of individual organs:


Spleen

Preservation of viscera:
1. Stomach & loop of intestine with their
contents
2. 1/3rd of liver, of spleen, of each
kidneys.
Preservative:

Opinion
Sufficient in ordinary course of nature to
cause death.

Negative or Obscure Autopsy:

Other Types of
Autopsies:
1. Virtual Autopsy
2. Verbal Autopsy
3. Psychological Autopsy