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Medical News & Perspectives
April 11, 2012

Can Imaging Help Revive the Autopsy?

JAMA. 2012;307(14):1471-1472. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.428

Half a century ago, autopsies were routinely performed on about 50% of all patients who died in hospitals. Not only a powerful tool for quality improvement in patient care, the autopsy generates accurate vital statistics, provides a better understanding of diseases, helps in the detection of new infections, and drives progress in medicine.

Despite these many benefits, the hospital autopsy has fallen out of favor and is now used primarily in forensic investigations. But although the traditional autopsy is on life support now, it may yet be revived by high-resolution imaging methods such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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