Rapid autopsy of a patient with recurrent anaplastic ependymoma

Palliat Support Care. 2018 Apr;16(2):238-242. doi: 10.1017/S1478951517000864. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


ABSTRACTObjective:Our aim was to outline a procedure for obtaining a rapid autopsy in order to collect high-quality postmortem tissue for genomic analysis.

Methods: This report details a bi-institutional collaborative effort to coordinate a rapid autopsy for a pediatric patient who had died at home. We discuss the scientific rationale for offering a rapid autopsy to caregivers of pediatric patients as well as parental perspectives on broaching the subject of autopsy. We then review the logistics and coordination involved with planning a rapid autopsy and the sequence of events needed to maximize tissue quality.

Results: We report the successful coordination of a rapid autopsy for a patient who died in a hospice setting at her out-of-state home. The time interval from death to the start of the rapid autopsy procedure was 4.5 hours, despite the logistical considerations demanded by the location of the patient. Tumor aliquots and nonneoplastic tissues were successfully snap frozen for downstream genomic studies.

Significance of results: Physicians should consider trialing a rapid autopsy program at their institution that could be offered to caregivers of pediatric patients. This case report offers a framework to help clinicians develop their own rapid autopsy programs as well as guidelines to help streamline this process for appropriate candidates going forward.

Keywords: Autopsy; Communication; Hospice; Neurooncology; Pediatric.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy / methods*
  • Cause of Death
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death
  • Ependymoma / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hospice Care / methods
  • Hospice Care / trends
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Time Factors*