First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Autopsy
An autopsy is a thorough examination of a body after death to help determine why (cause of death) and how (manner of death) the person died. Autopsies are required by law when a death is sudden and unexpected, occurs in a person who is not under a doctor's care, results from a crime or fatal accident, or occurs under suspicious circumstances.
An autopsy may be used to:
If an autopsy will be required by law, it will be ordered by the county coroner or medical examiner. Only a doctor, often one with special training (pathologist), can perform an autopsy. If an autopsy is not required by law, the person who requests one must be the deceased person's next of kin.
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.