Since the inception of evidence-based scientific concepts in medicine in the 19th century, the utility of postmortem microbiologic examinations has been a topic of controversy. For every study describing a lack of correlation between antemortem clinical and laboratory findings and postmortem culture results, there is equal evidence from other studies that indicates at least some limited utility in select cases. While the contributions of autopsies and postmortem microbiologic examinations in the discovery of novel infectious microorganisms are generally appreciated by the medical and scientific societies, the problems of implementing routine procedures in daily autopsy practice clearly relate to the lack of consensus on their broader utility as well as to a lack of regulatory guidelines. This review provides an overview of the literature-based evidence regarding the utility of postmortem microbiologic examinations together with some practical aspects and guidelines for those confronted with the issue of whether to allow or discourage the use of bacteriologic cultures obtained during autopsies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)