Autopsy Q&A by Dr. Stoppler

Is an open-casket funeral possible following an autopsy?

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

Answer:

In almost all cases, the performance of an autopsy will not interfere with any type of viewing the family chooses. The incisions generally used to examine the body at autopsy are not visible after the body is prepared for viewing and burial. Even if the brain is examined during autopsy, the incisions used to examine the brain are made on the lower back part of the head and are covered by the pillow during viewing of the body.

In rare situations, injuries to the face, scalp, or hands may necessitate examination of these areas during an autopsy, which could leave marks that may be visible during viewing of the body. Be sure to discuss your wishes for an open casket or viewing with the doctor, who will be able to address any specific concerns or questions you may have about the autopsy.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 11/8/2006