My How Autopsy Facilities Have Changed

09 May

Autopsy rooms aren’t what they used to be. Not even close. Centuries ago, the autopsy room was often a dark and dank place in the basement of a hospital, some lit only by meager sunlight through a small window or two. Others were performed in theaters where physicians could sit and observe.


In the 19th Century and before, the autopsy procedure itself dealt only with what the physician could see before him. Some diseases and traumas were readily apparent but more subtle diseases and injuries and essentially all poisons would often go unnoticed. Not likely today with our expanding knowledge of forensic science and greatly improved and more sophisticated facilities.


An interesting article in Forensic Magazine on state-of-the-art autopsy facilities underscores these changes. A modern autopsy facility would have looked unearthly to the 19th century physician.


5 responses to “My How Autopsy Facilities Have Changed

  1. Jodie Renner

    May 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting! I’m sending my crime fiction writer clients here again for more info.This blog is a gold mine of information for crime fiction writers!


  2. L.J. Sellers

    May 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Observing an autopsy is still on my list of research projects. I’ve seen the local facility, but not the process…yet.


  3. Sheila Good

    May 12, 2012 at 4:49 am

    I didn’t find it creepy at all. I’m a retired RN. At one time I spent a lot of time in that room. I was a transplant coordinator for bone and tissue. I also worked closely with our local coroner. I found autopsies to be very interesting. Finding the cause of death was fascinating puzzle to me, and a little vicks vapor rub under the nose helped with the smell.


  4. las artes

    June 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    The quotation “my friend was sick, I attended him; he died, I dissected him” has been ascribed to various 19th century physicians. As my own friends retire and die, I wonder who will be assigned to perform my autopsy and whether he or she will know how to do it. The autopsy is, for me and others, a last opportunity to contribute to society.



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