Autopsy Pathology

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Autopsy Pathology

Autopsy Pathology at NewYork Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center encompasses full or limited post-mortem examinations on appropriately consented, deceased patients to provide knowledge on the pathology-based cause of death as well as clinicopathological correlations for our patients’ families and treating physicians.  We are committed to the thorough evaluation of disease that may be present in our patients and for the subsequent benefit to family members, overall medical training, and future developments for those who may be similarly afflicted.  Our mission is to teach housestaff and faculty, across departments, about the physical manifestation of human disease, to provide answers to clinically unanswered questions, and help bring closure for surviving relatives.

Autopsy Extent and Permission:

According to the document of consent we can perform full autopsies that include examination of all major organs including the brain and any other part of the body relevant to the disease process.  There are also a range of options whereby we can perform more limited examinations according to the wishes of the provider of consent (usually next–of-kin).  This includes autopsies that specifically exclude examination of specified organs, autopsies limited to specific body cavities or specific organs, or autopsies that are limited to small biopsies of selected tissues.  It is important to realize that a standard full autopsy, which permits acquisition of the greatest amount of information, including examination of the brain, is done in a manner that is respectful to the external appearance of the deceased patient and is fully compatible with open-casket viewing, should this be desired by family members. 
In addition, we are fully committed to respecting any issues relevant to the religion of the deceased individual and surviving relatives.  This includes expedited autopsies to ensure burial is within a timeframe respectful of an individual’s religious practices and autopsies that ensure all tissue is returned to the body, including blood, following gross examination, with or without procurement of small tissue samples as indicated by the consent form.  Our Attending autopsy pathologists are always available to speak with family members about specific concerns they may have relating to the autopsy.

Autopsy Timing:

Following completion of all necessary paperwork including consent for autopsy, autopsies for all inpatients will ordinarily be performed within 24 hours of death including on weekends and holidays.  A preliminary report, referred to as Preliminary Autopsy Diagnoses (PAD) will be issued within 2 business days following the autopsy.  This report is based upon initial macroscopic examination.  Following microscopic analysis and other studies, a final report (FAD) is issued typically within 30-60 days.

Rapid Autopsy Program:

For patients who have died from advanced staged cancer we have a rapid autopsy program available that is intended to rapidly procure tumor tissue from both primary sites and metastatic sites before the tissue quality has degraded significantly (within hours).   Such rapid procurement improves the quality of advanced tumor analysis technologies and permits a wealth of information to be extracted from tissue that may provide insight into the pathogenesis of a patient’s particular form of cancer and could even provide information that may benefit similarly affected patients in the future.  The patient’s treating physician, patient, or the patient’s family members in coordination may initiate interest in the rapid autopsy program with pathologists.  For patients and/or their family members who are interested in this program, details and logistics can be discussed at any time prior to or after death.  This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Facility:

In 2011, we relocated the facility and built a brand new, state-of-the-art autopsy suite with negative pressure ventilation, dissection and grossing tables. This autopsy suite includes a wide breadth of information technology such as video conferencing, digital photography and medical imaging. 

Our service also performs autopsy pathology services for New York Hospital Queens and NewYork Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.

General Contact

The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
WCMC-NYPH
Surgical Pathology Laboratory
525 East 68th Street, ST-1002
New York, NY 10065
Tel: 212-746-2700
Fax: 212-746-8624

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