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Autopsy and Medicine
July 10, 2000

Case of the MonthThe Autopsy and New Technology: All That Glitters Is Not a Gold Standard

Eric Kiesel, MD; Randy Hanzlick, MD; and the Autopsy Committee of the College of American Pathologists, Northfield, Ill
Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(13):1901-1902. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.13.1901

A 66-YEAR-OLD woman with metastatic uterine leiomyosarcoma involving nearly the entire left lung was admitted to the hospital for evaluation of dyspnea. On day 3 of her hospitalization, while undergoing a computed tomographic (CT) scan, she reportedly fell from the CT table, landing between the table and the scanner. Computed tomographic scans of her head, neck, and chest were performed to evaluate her condition and determine if any injuries were sustained from the fall. She suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest while still in the CT scan room. Resuscitation efforts were not performed because she had been placed on do-not-resuscitate status. Her death was reported to the medical examiner because of the fall and possible injury. When the death was reported to the medical examiner, information obtained by the medicolegal death investigator from the hospital indicated that the CT scan showed upper cervical spine fracture with spinal cord compression. The medical examiner assumed jurisdiction and performed a complete autopsy.

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