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Irish Child Health Database - Peer Reviewed Papers

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  • The value of the perinatal and neonatal autopsy

    Published in:

    Ir Med J, Vol: 97, Page: 241-4

    Publication Date:

    September 2004

    Aims & Objectives:

    The aim of this study was to audit the value of perinatal and neonatal autopsy


    The postmortem historically has been considered a valuable diagnostic exercise which contributes to medical knowledge. Despite this, there has been a significant reduction in autopsy rates throughout the developed world. This audit was a retrospective study of autopsy reports of stillbirths and neonates [corrected] greater than 500 grams over a five year period from 1995 to 1999. The audit was performed to assess the impact of autopsy on the current practice of perinatal medicine. The audit compared the final pathological diagnosis to the clinical diagnosis. The pathological diagnosis was categorised as (I) diagnostic, (II) confirmative, (III) unexplained. The recurrence risk estimates as a result of necropsy were also identified, as were any additional findings that were felt to be relevant but did not belong to any of the above categories. A total of 262 perinatal deaths (including stillbirths) and neonatal deaths greater than 500 grams birth weight were recorded during this period. The autopsy rate was 81%. The 213 autopsies performed were assessed, of which 76 (36%) were found to be diagnostic, 108 (51%) confirmatory, and 29 (13%) were unexplained or revealed no new findings. Change in recurrence risk estimates was identified in 24 (11%) and additional relevant information was obtained in 38 (18%). There were a number of cases where an unexpected diagnosis was made as a result of autopsy; these diagnoses included a respiratory chain disorder in a twenty nine week infant, and an occult necrotising enterocolitis presenting with severe haemolysis post transfusion in a preterm infant. The perinatal post mortem examination remains an indispensable part of clinical management. It contributes to medical education and quality assurance. It can aid in the identification of inheritable diseases and provide information for accurate parental counseling.


    O. G. Killeen; C. Burke; D. Devaney; T. A. Clarke

    Study Type:

    Study Papers » Audit » Descriptive Studies - Measuring aspects of effectiveness


    perinatal and neonatal autopsy

    International Classification:

    Deaths - perinatal and neonatal autopsy



    Republic of Ireland (Dublin (Rotunda Tertiary referal maternity hospital))