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Why choose a Small Incision Autopsy? The Small Incision Autopsy can be requested to find out if the cause of a sudden death was an inherited condition. Knowing can allow your family to get tested. Knowing can save lives.

Please note: a Small Incision Autopsy cannot definitely determine the cause of death. Only a complete autopsy can definitively determine the cause of the death. A Small Incision Autopsy is used to help the family learn about inherited conditions.

What is done: A Small Incision Autopsy consists of

  • a complete evaluation of the outside of the body
  • a directed examination of the heart

When should I think about requesting a Small Incision Autopsy?

In general, a Small Incision Autopsy can be useful if
-the death was unexpected
-your loved one died young
-your loved one seemed healthy right up to the time of death Back to top of page.


What kind of Small Incision Autopsies are there?

Right now, we offer Small Incision Autopsies of the heart. This looks for inherited heart conditions as a cause of sudden death. Back to top of page.


What exactly is done in a Small Incision Autopsy?

A small incision is made below the rib cage near the heart (view image). The sac around the heart is entered and evaluated. The heart is evaluated. The nearby large blood vessel (aorta) is evaluated. Back to top of page.


What’s the difference between a regular autopsy and a Small Incision Autopsy?

A regular autopsy of the heart uses a “chest only” autopsy. In a chest only autopsy, an incision is made from the shoulders to the top of the breast bone, down the breast bone and then across the lower ribs on each side. Once inside the body, the front of the rib cage is removed to access the chest organs, including the heart. A Small Incision Autopsy uses one small incision below the ribs to access the heart. Back to top of page.


What will I learn from a Small Incision Autopsy?

Our report will give you an assessment of these heart conditions:
-Coronary artery disease
-Valve diseases associated with sudden death (e.g. Bicuspid Aortic Valve)
-Hypertensive heart disease (in a patient with high blood pressure)
-Other conditions (based on study under the microscope, etc.) Back to top of page.


How much does a Small Incision Autopsy cost?

Small Incision Autopsies cost significantly less than other autopsies. Please contact us to discuss. Back to top of page.


Read about sudden death and the autopsy


If you want to know if a sudden death was related to an inherited condition in the heart, requesting a Small Incision Autopsy may be the right choice for you. Please call us at 1-855-8-AUTOPSY.