What happens during the autopsy?
1. The examination of the body. Sometimes this reveals an injury or disease that can be seen such as an aneurysm, a fracture, or a gunshot wound. Some causes of death are not visible and may not be apparent at the time of autopsy.

2. The histology, or “slides.” When an autopsy is performed several small tissue samples are normally taken and sent out to be prepared, and then returned as slides for microscopic examination. This normally takes seven to ten working days to process. The doctor will view these slides for signs of infection, injury, or disease and include these findings in the autopsy report.

3. A toxicology report. In most cases we request a toxicology analysis from the Washington State Toxicology Lab in Seattle. This typically involves sending blood and urine samples to the lab which then screens the samples for selected medications as well as common drugs of abuse and returns a report to our office. This process currently takes approximately eight to ten weeks, depending on the lab’s work load, staffing, and the complexity of the results.

Show All Answers

1. Can I say no to an autopsy?
2. How do I find out about organ and tissue donation?
3. How do I find the Medical Examiner's Office?
4. How do I get the personal effects back?
5. How do I obtain a copy of an autopsy report?
6. How do I obtain a Death Certificate?
7. How much will Medical Examiner services cost?
8. What do I do with the residence?
9. What happens during the autopsy?
10. What if I need more time to select a funeral home?
11. What if I want an autopsy, but the Medical Examiner doesn’t want to do one?
12. Where can I get help with clean up of a residence after a death?
13. Where will the body be taken?
14. Who are the people removing the body?
15. Why do an autopsy?
16. Will an autopsy effect funeral preparations?
17. Will an autopsy delay the funeral?