Examination, postmortem
An autopsy. Also called a necropsy. Postmortem examinations have been done for more than 2,000 years but during most of this time they were rarely done, and then only for legal purposes. The Roman physician Antistius performed one of the earliest autopsies on record. In 44 B.C., he examined Julius Caesar and documented 23 wounds, including a final fatal stab to the chest. In 1410, the Catholic Church itself ordered an autopsy — on Pope Alexander V, to determine whether his successor had poisoned him. No evidence of this was found. By the turn of the 20th century, prominent physicians such as Rudolf Virchow in Berlin, Karl Rokitansky in Vienna, and William Osler in Baltimore won popular support for the practice. They defended it as a tool of discovery, one that was needed to identify the cause of tuberculosis, reveal how to treat appendicitis, and establish the existence of Alzheimer disease. They showed that autopsies prevented errors — that, without autopsies, doctors could not know when their diagnoses were incorrect. Most deaths were a mystery then, and perhaps what clinched the argument was the notion that autopsies could provide families with answers — give the story of a loved one's life a comprehensible ending. By the end of the Second World War, the autopsy was firmly established as a routine part of death in North America and Europe. For more information, see Autopsy (Postmortem Examination).

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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  • Postmortem examination — An autopsy. Also called a necropsy. Postmortem examinations have been done for more than 2,000 years but during most of this time they were rarely done, and then only for legal purposes. The Roman physician Antistius performed one of the earliest …   Medical dictionary

  • postmortem — [pōst΄môr′təm] adj. [L, lit., after death] 1. happening, done, or made after death 2. having to do with a post mortem examination n. 1. short for POSTMORTEM EXAMINATION 2. a detailed examination or evaluation of some event just ended: Also… …   English World dictionary

  • postmortem examination — n. AUTOPSY * * * …   Universalium

  • postmortem examination — n. AUTOPSY …   English World dictionary

  • postmortem — [adj] following death future, later, posthumous, postmundane, post obit, postobituary; concept 799 postmortem [n] analysis after death autopsy, coroner’s report, dissection, examination, necropsy, post*; concepts 103,310 …   New thesaurus

  • postmortem — I noun 1. discussion of an event after it has occurred • Syn: ↑post mortem • Derivationally related forms: ↑postmortal (for: ↑post mortem), ↑postmortal …   Useful english dictionary

  • postmortem — /pohst mawr teuhm/, adj. 1. of, pertaining to, or occurring in the time following death. 2. of or pertaining to examination of the body after death. 3. occurring after the end of something; after the event: a postmortem criticism of a television… …   Universalium

  • postmortem examination — noun an examination and dissection of a dead body to determine cause of death or the changes produced by disease • Syn: ↑autopsy, ↑necropsy, ↑postmortem, ↑post mortem, ↑PM, ↑post mortem examination • Derivationally related forms: ↑aut …   Useful english dictionary

  • postmortem — UK [ˌpəʊs(t)ˈmɔː(r)təm] / US [ˌpoʊs(t)ˈmɔrtəm] noun [countable] Word forms postmortem : singular postmortem plural postmortems 1) a medical examination of a dead body to find out why the person died 2) a discussion or examination to find out why… …   English dictionary

  • postmortem — Synonyms and related words: autopsy, canvass, check, check out, check over, check up on, coroner, examine, give an examination, go over, inquest, inspect, look at, look over, medical examiner, monitor, mortality committee, necropsy, necroscopy,… …   Moby Thesaurus

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