Computerized tomography scanning and magnetic resonance imaging will terminate the era of the autopsy - A hypothesis Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Reports on a marked reduction of the number of autopsies performed worldwide to less than 5% of hospital deaths remain without a satisfactory explanation. The premature disappearance of the autopsy might represent a medical tragedy of a major order. One of the causes for the decrease in autopsies is poorly documented: we suspect that the attending physician might show some reluctance when requesting a consent for an autopsy from the bereaved family. Moreover, this officer might consider that the post mortem will add little information to that already obtained from the computerized tomography scanner or the magnetic resonance imaging. Methods: In order to confirm our hypothesis, we carried out a review of 300 articles indexed as "radiologic-histologic correlation", 118 of which were selected for a significant correlation. From the abstracts, we retrieved the type of the article, the degree of correlation as assessed by the authors and the form of imaging employed, and we computed them. Results & conclusions: The most striking correlation was observed in the small prospective series. An additional search for the "radiologic-autopsy correlation" supported a marked reduction in the number of post-mortems, especially those related with prospective studies. Based on the present study, we cannot determine precisely the role of the house officer in this tragedy. We may have demonstrated, however, that the modern radiologic methods have not yet reached a high enough performance quality to achieve the status of a candidate substitute for the autopsy.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016