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Understanding Autopsies

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Autopsies
Image: pathguy.com

A forensic pathologist residing in Austin, Texas, Dr. Danielo Perez has conducted autopsies on people who passed away from unexplained or unnatural causes. Before moving to Austin, Dr. Danielo Perez completed his residency training in anatomic and clinical pathology at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was named chief resident.

Depending on the state of the cadaver in question or the context of the death being investigated, forensic pathologists may conduct a very thorough or very limited autopsy. A limited autopsy may involve the study of one organ, while a more extensive procedure may look at several organ systems and bodily cavities.

During a standard autopsy procedure, a pathologist often scrutinizes the abdomen, chest, and even the brain. These steps come in addition to an external examination wherein the pathologist notes identifying or unusual marks and records metrics such as the cadaver’s mass and height.

Over the course of an autopsy, the pathologist may take tissue samples for laboratory testing. Toxicology screenings, one type of test, can determine what chemicals were in the deceased’s system at the time of death. Once finished with an autopsy, pathologists attempt to determine probable cause of death.

Advances in Forensic Science Make Criminal Activity Much Harder

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Forensic Science
Image: phys.org

Dr. Danielo Perez is an Austin, Texas, resident with extensive experience as a forensic pathologist. As a graduate student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Dr. Danielo Perez of Austin became interested in the pathology aspect of forensic science for its varied way of looking at human functions.

A recent Time magazine article explored the possibility that advances in forensic science and DNA technology will make it impossible to commit crimes in the future. An example given is the Unabomber case, in which limited DNA was contained in saliva traces taken from the envelope used to mail the Unabomber manifesto. This indicated that Ted Kaczynski was “among a category of people who could not be excluded.” Thus, the DNA data was part of the probable cause that allowed a search warrant to be executed.

The uses of DNA technology in the future are likely to be far more advanced, with the intersection between digital forensics and forensic chemistry particularly rich. Genetic sequencing can significantly lower the number of potential suspects, particularly when they are linked with nationwide searchable databases such as the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.