ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Autopsies can help lift the veil on how viruses attack the body, but forensic examiners are discouraged from doing autopsies on people who died from COVID-19, according to some in the region.
“Really the recommendation is to avoid invasive procedures,” said Dr. Jane Turner a forensic pathologist and a former Medical Examiner in the St. Louis area.
She said autopsies are rarely performed on patients who die in hospitals, but adds performing an autopsy on COVID-19 patients is almost too dangerous to undertake.
“The autopsy procedure can cause the virus to be admitted into the air and can cause the virus to be present in the air for a few hours after the procedure,” Turner said.
Instead, she said a positive test before or after death is what experts will mostly rely on.
“Some people are doing limited examinations for academic purposes, they are taking needle biopsies of major organs so they are not creating droplets in the air,” she said.
Turner said many people do want to understand why younger, seemingly healthy people also seem to be seriously impacted by the virus, but an autopsy may not even be helpful to understand that.