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Usefulness of Systematic Histological Examination in Routine Forensic Autopsy

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The forensic community does not agree on the need to perform histological examination at forensic autopsy. The aim of our study was to determine the usefulness of systematic standard histology in forensic autopsies. A prospective study was carried out on 428 autopsy cases for which standard histological examination was systematic. Mechanism of death not shown by gross anatomic findings was discovered by histology in about 40% of the cases. Cause of death was established by only histology in 8.4% of the cases. Microscopic findings affected the manner of death in 13% of the cases. Histology provided complementary information about prior medical condition of the deceased in about 49% of the cases. Traumatic lesions were better documented by histology in about 22% of the cases. According to the results of our study, systematic standard histology for the main organs should be used in routine forensic autopsies.

Keywords: cause of death; forensic autopsy; forensic pathology; forensic science; histology; manner of death

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Raymond Poincaré Hospital, AP-HP, Versailles Saint-Quentin University, 104 Boulevard Raymond Poincaré, 92380 Garches, France.

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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