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A post-mortem examination is referred to a medical examination of a dead body to establish the cause of death, also known as autopsy. D. Marinescu (2014) mentions that it is a normal medical procedure that involving diagnosis of tissues and organs of the body after death, aiming at determining the cause and the manner of death. In this report, the significance of post-mortem examinations on human and animal will be discussed. Besides knowing the cause and manner of death, post-mortem examination also helps in assessing any disease or injury that might be present and explain the interaction of it with the cause of death of the deceased. Human post-mortems are conducted by doctors who are experts in the nature and causes of diseases, known as a pathologist. The examination will be conducted upon request by a coroner or a hospital doctor. A coroner will request for post-mortem on the deceased when the cause of death is unknown, suspicious, violence or sudden unexpected death. While hospital doctors usually carry out the examination upon further medical research for deeper understanding about certain illness or the cause of death. Which means, there are two different types of post-mortem examination for humans which are medico-legal post-mortem examination and clinical post-mortem examination.
Medico-legal post-mortem examination will be conducted when requested by the investigating authorities. The procedure and systems to carry out this examination might be different from country to country but the main objectives are largely the same. In Malaysia, we used a modified version of English Coroner’s system where the Coroner role is played by the Magistrate (Kasinathan S., 1997). Such deaths as unexpected, unknown, caused by accident or injury, unnatural or suspicious such as homocide, or when the death happened during or after a hospital procedure will be referred to the Coroner. (National Health Service, 2015). The aims of medico-legal postmortem are to identify the deceased, reconstructing the crime scene if no proper eye witness nor history is available, to document the nature of the injuries followed with their description and distribution, to find out any underlying disease or factor that contribute to death, to discover any injuries that might occur prior or after death and, to collect evidences and traces on the deceased body that might help to solve the case.
Clinical post-mortem examination usually carried out when the deceased died by natural causes. The examination will be requested by the hospital doctor or the family of the deceased. According to RB Kotabagi (2005), the aims of this type of post-mortem is to determine the nature of the disease when diagnosis before death does not help therefore need to gain better understanding about the disease. However, it can only be carried out with consent either given by the deceased (before death) or by the family of the deceased. This type of post-mortem usually has certain limits on which organs and tissues are allowed to be remove for further examination.
A post-mortem examination usually conducted quickly within two to three days since the death of the deceased. The post-mortem is conducted in an examination room that is almost similar to an operation theatre, but this room is inspected and licensed by Health Technology Assessment, HTA. During post-mortem, the body will be cut open and the organs will be taken out for further diagnosis. Some small tissue samples and certain needed organs have to be retained by the pathologist for a further detail diagnosis to get an accurate result. For example, in a case where the deceased experienced head injury or might have the chance to suffer a complex disease prior death such as Alzheimer’s disease, the brain is usually sent to a specialist for further examination. Some examinations, depends on the case, would take several weeks or even months to complete. After the post-mortem completed, the pathologist will put the organs back to the body. The body can only be collected by their family member when release papers and reports have been provided by the pathologist to the Coroner or the responsible medical staffs. Usually, pathology reports contain the medical history of the deceased, their death circumstances, the description of the internal organs and the external condition of the body, and the information of other tests that have been conducted on the body.
In veterinary field, post-mortem examinations are known as necropsy. It is conducted on deceased animals in order to get to know the cause of death or to collect tissues and organs specimens for further diagnosis. The diagnosis may help to gain better understanding about a particular disease and veterinarians can come out with a better treatment to cure the disease. Some other significance of necropsies is to clarify the cause of production loss either due to existing diseases or management issues, to determine the efficiency of new medical or surgical techniques and therapies, to determine the efficiency of new medicines, to clarify the toxicity of therapeutic agents, to collect important and accurate information that can be added into national records of animal disease, to gain legal information and other same importance such as for humans autopsy.
In conclusion, there are numerous amounts of benefits and significance of post-mortem examination. Post-mortem allow doctors to assess, correct and confirm clinical diagnosis by improving their ability to diagnose and applying new medical knowledge for future practices. Besides, post-mortem provides the answers and information about particular diseases (such as cancer) that cannot be acquired by living subjects. Indirectly, the diagnosis could clarify the efficiency of new surgical techniques, drugs or therapies for the diseases and with that, surviving rate for the patients could increase too. With the help of post-mortem, any chemical process that could cause changes on tissues or organs either inhaling or ingestion of chemicals, food additives or pollutants, could be find out (L. Rogozea, 2014). The probability of solving complex and criminal cases also could be improve with the evidences and traces collected from the post-mortem examinations. Thus, post-mortem examinations are very important as they not only provide the answers on how, when, and why it happened but also give hopes for medical educations and medical practices as it is one of the most helpful learning tool in the study of basic pathology including the veterinary field. However, it is still should be done legally and ethically with acceptable license from authorities.

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