Saturday, June 25, 2005

My First Autopsy

a short note: I wrote this about a week ago. I've been having trouble accessing using the internet from the apartment so I have a few backlog posts, this is one of 'em...

I attended my first autopsy today. After 8 weeks, we're finally done with our Surgery rotation and we now go into the minor rotations. The first one on deck for me is Legal Medicine. This brings me back to my opening statement.

I attended my first autopsy today and it was not what I expected. The CSI Las Vegas autopsies are always neat and high tech. The one I saw this afternoon was just plain butchering. I'll try to give a blow by blow account, as my memory will allow.

The deceased was a 22 year old male who was hit by a fast moving vehicle as he just happened to cross the highway. I think he was DOA (dead on arrival) at the hospital so he was brought to Camp Crame (the Phil National Police's main HQ) for the mandatory autopsy.

On inspection of the skin, abrasions and contusions were found predominantly on his flanks and arms but were present on almost the entire body. He had a large laceration on the scalp.

The ME (medical examiner for those non-CSI people) then took several instruments from his bag: knives and saws of all kinds. He took one knife and then proceeded to slice open the scalp in a coronal fashion (from one ear, passing up to the topmost part of the scalp, down to the other ear). He pulled the skin down to the face as he was peeling away all the layers of the scalp down to the bone. He next took a metal saw and started sawing open the scalp. The brain had sustained a nick somehow (possibly from the depressed fracture) and there was blood on the brain surface (this, of course, isn't a normal finding). He proceeded to extract the brain from the cranial vault. He found fractures on the basal aspect of the skull. Satisfied that he had a cause of death, he proceeded to the abdomen.

The ME made a vertical incision with his very sharp knife down the midline, from the topmost part of the sternum (the chest bone) down to the umbilicus. Using the same knife, he SLICED open the ribs (can you imagin how sharp the knife is! we heard cracking sounds as he did this!) and exposed the thoracic and abdominal cavities. He first removed the liver and inspected it. There were cracks in the capsule and dried blood was on the surface of these "lacerations" (i cant think of the proper term for this right now). He started removing the abdominal (and retroperitoneal) organs one by one, inspecting each as he went -- kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, stomach. He then moved on to the thoracic cavity. He removed the heart and both lungs.

Satisfied, he started replacing all these organs back into the gaping hole that he made and told us to return to the office. The piece of flesh on the autopsy table no longer looked human. He did the whole thing in a matter of 20 to 25 minutes.

It is enough to say that although we were able to eat dinner after that, we thought it was best to stay away from sashimi for awhile.


morpheus said...

This is great! Now I won't be able to eat meat of any kind.

karlmd said...

from me: haha! my descriptions weren't THAT vivid. ;-p

Joshua Santiago said...

Oh my goodness! =P