Relevance of Autopsy As a Diagnostic Tool in Present Times: A Study
Annals of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Autopsy rates have been declining world-wide; the ever-increasing availability of advanced diagnostic tests, complex legal procedure, and fear of medico-legal lawsuits appear to be some of the contributing factors. Clinical judgment errors however have shown no decline and continue to remain a source of concern. Mortality and morbidity data statistics become relevant in framing health policies only when validated by corresponding autopsy studies. The present study was conducted to ascertain the
... ed to ascertain the utility of autopsy as a modern diagnostic tool. Methods: A prospective study of hundred consecutive cases of medico-legal autopsies received in the Pathology Department was carried out for their demographic characteristics with a comparative analysis between the initial cause of death and final autopsy diagnosis. The utility of autopsy in discovering hitherto unknown incidental pathologies was also evaluated. Results: In 17.6 % of cases, the final cause of death was revealed only after autopsy. It proved especially beneficial in discovering latent cardiac illnesses, occult visceral bleed sites, and undiagnosed respiratory and infectious pathologies. Hitherto unknown incidental findings which were not directly responsible for death but nevertheless enhance our understanding of different pathologic processes were found in 16.5 % of cases. Conclusion: The study confirmed the utility of autopsy as an important diagnostic tool in revealing the true cause of death and contributing to our understanding of evolution of different disease processes. Simplifying the legal procedure will encourage more autopsies, stirring the clinician's interest and involvement in autopsy studies.