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September 6, 1965


JAMA. 1965;193(10):828-829. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090100074025

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For a long time the autopsy was virtually synonymous with all of pathology. But as pathology enlarged its methodology and conceptual background the autopsy diminished in importance. Today it plays a vastly smaller role than it did even a generation ago. What about the future? To help explore the problems, six students of disease—five of them pathologists, one a clinician—have dicussed the autopsy (p 805). We may hope that the comments can stimulate interest, provoke discussion, and perhaps induce certain changes, after the directions have been clarified.

The postmortem examination has an important share in three major functions: research, "service," and teaching, all interpenetrating one with the others. In the early days the autopsy was virtually the sole research tool in pathology. But when new tools became available, dissection and description, the old "dead house" pathology, acquired a bad name, tended to get separated off from the study of the

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