Autopsy Rotation

The goal of the autopsy rotation is to gain experience and knowledge about general autopsy techniques including evisceration and general dissection, the hospital-based autopsy and natural disease processes, and a basic introduction into forensic pathology concepts. The resident will be able to convey information derived from the autopsy to both hospital clinicians and the general public including family, law enforcement, and other interested agencies. 

Senior residents will gain experience in more advanced autopsy techniques and gain supervisory skills. The autopsy service for both resident and senior residents will offer opportunities to hone critical thinking skills.

The autopsy service performs approximately 1,300 postmortem examinations per year. About 86 percent of these are medicolegal cases from the state medical examiner system, and the remainder are hospital autopsies within the Wake Forest Baptist Medical System. 

Resident Responsibilities

The pathology residents spend a total of 4 rotations on autopsy during their residency; 3 general autopsy blocks and one additional block in a supervisory role teaching junior residents. Residents take part in a daily morning conference discussing the autopsy cases of the day and findings from the previous day. A case is then assigned for which he/she is responsible for performing the external and internal examination and presenting the findings to the attending pathologist, preparing reports and case presentations to appropriate clinical teams. The resident is responsible for dictating the case and preparing pertinent autopsy data, including logical anatomic diagnoses, clinical summaries, microscopic descriptions, and final opinions and comments. Weekly conferences include a “Selected Images in Autopsy” conference and a consensus conference. Occasionally the residents may present their findings at a morbidity and mortality conference.  

The autopsy service is a regional forensic pathology center covering 32 counties in Western North Carolina 

  • All autopsy attendings are board certified in forensic pathology of which three have additional board certifications (2 pediatric pathology and 1 neuropathology)
  • The department offers a forensic pathology fellowship 
  • Residents have ample opportunities for publications and presenting cases at national meetings