What is an Autopsy and Can My Loved One Still Have an Open-Casket Funeral?

An autopsy is a medical examination of the body performed after death.  The term autopsy is derived from the Ancient Greek autopsia, which means “to see for oneself”.  This specialized, detailed surgical procedure allows for an in-depth examination of every organ system in the body, with the goals of documenting disease and injury, collection of evidence and specimens for additional testing, and ultimately, determining the cause of death.  All of the procedures during an autopsy are conducted with great care in order to preserve the appearance of the deceased person, and to minimize alterations of the body.  Following a typical autopsy, the body of the deceased can still be embalmed and viewed during funerary rites.  All incisions made during the autopsy are closed, and can be hidden by clothing and typical casket accoutrements during open-casket funerals.