A prototype Internet autopsy database: 1625 consecutive fetal and neonatal autopsy facesheets spanning 20 years

G. William Moore, Jules J. Berman, Randy L. Hanzlick, John J. Buchino, Grover M. Hutchins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Scopus citations


    Objective. - To demonstrate that cause-of-death statements can be generated by a computer algorithm from an autopsy database composed of diagnostic terms. Data Sources. - Over 49 000 autopsy facesheets contributed by over a dozen institutions were collected from a publicly accessible Internet autopsy database. This database is available at the following web site: http://www.med.jhu.edu/pathology/iad.html Study Selection. - To test the feasibility of creating and using a publicly available autopsy database, and to identify the technical and medicolegal problems that may arise with such a novel resource, a prototype study was designed by selecting autopsy facesheets from fetal and neonatal deaths. An algorithm was developed to determine the cause of death from the listing of anatomic diagnoses. Data Extraction. - One thousand six hundred twenty-five fetal and neonatal autopsy facesheets were selected encompassing fetal and neonatal deaths occurring up to 28 days after birth. Data Synthesis. - The algorithm determined causes of death from autopsy facesheet data in all cases. On review by an experienced pediatric pathologist, these automatically generated cause-of-death statements required no modification or only slight modification in over 90% of cases. Conclusions. - A large multi-institutional autopsy database composed of demographic and diagnostic information has been deposited on the Internet. This information can be freely downloaded and used by any researcher without violating patient confidentiality. As a demonstration of one possible application of the database, fetal and neonatal autopsies generated cause-of-death statements using a computer algorithm. One can anticipate that the wealth of information contained in autopsy facesheets can be assembled into a database that will serve the public interest.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)782-785
    Number of pages4
    JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Aug 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Medical Laboratory Technology


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