When someone has died, one of the first things that are done is an autopsy, which is a medical procedure that thoroughly examines the corpse. A main reason why an autopsy is performed is to learn details regarding the cause and manner of death. An autopsy not only answers questions for loved ones, but also helps those investigating a crime. In this article, you will learn the steps associated with an autopsy.
Autopsies are typically performed by a medical doctor (called a pathologist), who is equipped with specialized skills to evaluate the ins and outs of a dead body. They must be able to detect and identify any disease or injury that may have occurred before the death of a body. Autopsies are performed for both medical and legal purposes. For example, a forensic autopsy is one that explores the cause of death as it relates to a potential crime.
The Process of an Autopsy
After a dead body arrives at a morgue, the identity of the deceased is confirmed and then assigned a number that will serve as identification. A toe tag is placed on the body, which is a piece of cardboard that lists significant information about the corpse. The reason the tag is referred to as a ‘toe tag’ is because it is tied to the big toe of the dead.
Photographs are taken of the body , starting at the head and moving along the body to the toes. The front and back of the body are also photographed. The first set of pictures includes the clothing that the body was wearing at the time of death and arrival at the morgue is also taken. A second set of pictures is taken of the body (from head to toe, and front and back) when it is completely stripped of all clothing.
The body is weighed on a scale and a record of that measurement is made. A pathologist will also measure the length of the body before a complete set of X-rays is taken. Fingerprints of the dead body are recorded and if any fingers or hands are missing, this observation is noted in the report.
In terms of a legal autopsy, the clothes of the deceased are examined at the morgue. Fiber samples are taken from the clothes so that they can be examined at a later time. A coroner will check for any stains on the clothing, such as blood, semen, oil, grease, and other fluids.
The physical appearance of the body is an important part of the examination. Any moles, tattoos, scars, and wounds are noted. These details can help solve a crime, end a missing persons report, and answer questions about their death. Any odd markings or physical anomalies are also noted in the report.