Autopsy in suspected COVID-19 cases

J Clin Pathol. 2020 May;73(5):239-242. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2020-206522. Epub 2020 Mar 20.

Abstract

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-coronavirus-2 (CoV-2) outbreak in Wuhan, China has now spread to many countries across the world including the UK with an increasing death toll. This will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related deaths at autopsy. The Royal College of Pathologists has responded to this concern with the release of a briefing on autopsy practice relating to COVID-19. The following article is a summary and interpretation of these guidelines. It includes a description of hazard group 3 organisms, the category to which SARS-CoV-2 has been assigned, a brief description of what is currently known about the pathological and autopsy findings in COVID-19, a summary of the recommendations for conducting autopsies in suspected COVID-19 cases and the techniques for making the diagnosis at autopsy. It concludes by considering the clinicopathological correlation and notification of such cases.

Keywords: autopsy pathology; diagnosis; lung; safety; virus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy*
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pathologists
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 diagnostic testing
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2