What is an autopsy?


An autopsy is a systematic examination of the organs of a body to determine the cause and manner of death and to assess any pathologic changes that may be present. A complete forensic autopsy begins with a thorough review of the decedent’s medical history if that information is available. The body is then examined both externally and internally in order to discover and document disease or injury. Specimens of vital organs and body fluids are tested for drugs and alcohol. In cases of death resulting from violence, evidence may be collected and later examined by the state crime laboratory.

The autopsy and ancillary tests usually do not delay the release of the body to the next-of-kin. However, the final results and completion of the autopsy report may take 60–90 days.


Printed from the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner website on March 28, 2023 at 7:55pm.