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Determining the cause of death by studying the body's pathological clues is known as an autopsy.

An autopsy is like surgery, but it is performed by pathologists upon a patient who is no longer living. In an autopsy, pathologists examine tissue samples and microbiological cultures to help determine why a patient died.

What an Autopsy May Tell Us

The goal of an autopsy is to determine the cause of death and to gather other information that the family may find useful.

For instance, an autopsy can:

  • Reveal undiagnosed cancers and genetic diseases that may affect relatives of the deceased individual. 
  • Provide information that can help doctors help others.

Many families experience a sense of closure upon learning the cause of death. Many people also feel grateful that they and their loved one have been able to help other people.

The Role of the Pathologist

Our group performs autopsies only if they are authorized by the next of kin, and there is no charge. We conduct thorough, respectful autopsies that allow for open casket funerals.

We also ensure that you have full access to the autopsy report, which is usually available 30 days after the autopsy is completed.

Learn more about autopsy from the Department of Pathology.

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