Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

I do not have the stomach to be an autopsy tech––but I admire the people who can do it. They have a job that grosses the average person out, but they are instrumental in bringing closure to families who have lost a loved one. Their findings are also crucial to helping solve crimes and, of course, identifying anything that might pose a health risk to the broader community.

But they also run into some odd things on the job, believe it or not. They shared their stories after Redditor NekoJake asked the online community,

"Autopsy doctors of Reddit, what was the strangest discovery you've made while performing an autopsy?"

"The primary mystery..."

​"Undiagnosed widespread metastasized cancer in a college kid that had died in a bar fight gone bad. It's one of the small mysteries of my career thus far that has stuck with me. The primary mystery being how it could be that he wouldn't have noticed his condition or sought medical attention prior to his death. This was not some mere colon polyp, it was everywhere. I've had other instances before and since where you find the "second place" cause of death that didn't get to have its moment, certainly, a lot of older people have a thing or two in the works, but that was definitely the strangest instance of that concept."

BangkokMohel

That is so sad. To be killed in one instance only to run the risk of later being killed by another that would have come as a complete surprise.

"Upon entering the larynx..."

"As a student in Dental school gross anatomy lab. We were dissecting the throat. Upon entering the larynx we discovered a tooth the Pt. had swallowed. The tooth was lodged over epiglottis and we got to change the cause of death to "choked on foreign substance." All cadavers were treated with the utmost respect."

PresentEase1305

"I thought we'd discover a tumor..."

"When I was a med student our cadaver had a thumb-sized lump in his scrotum. I thought we'd discover a tumor. When I dissected and cut open the scrotum there's was a plastic object. It turned out to be a penile implant. Our professor had me dissect the entire implant out and everyone else went to our table and I had to show them the entire contraption. Reservoir, cylinders, and all. I was later called the penile implant guy. No, I didn't become a urologist."

winicfde

"I've seen bone cancer..."

"I've seen bone cancer that spread to a young person's lung, which basically replaced the whole lung with bone. I had to saw the lung in half with a bone saw to get samples.

Another lady with cirrhosis died, and when she arrived she had a distended belly. We assumed it was due to ascites secondary to her cirrhosis, but when we opened her abdomen this thick, clear, gelatinous mucus poured out. We measured it at over 2 liters of this sticky gel. Turns out she had an undiagnosed mucinous tumor of her ovary, which had spread all throughout her abdomen."

Nice_Dude

"The other day..."

"The other day I autopsied a decomposed mid-fifties lady with a small plastic container in her rectum filled with a clear liquid. I tried using a urine drug screen card to test it, but it did not work."

InterestingCommon5

I once knew a doctor who entertained me one evening by telling me about all the odd things he retrieved from the rectums of some of his patients.

I'm surprised I still had an appetite afterward.

"The report came back..."

"Once, I sent a cow for autopsy after it died suddenly. The report came back that there was a wire in its heart (not hugely uncommon, they work through from the digestive tract), but also that this cow had a deflated football in its stomach which had been there for some time and did not appear to hinder digestion."

whiskeythrowaway

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"During gross anatomy..."

"During gross anatomy in medical/dental school, one of the cadavers had a penis pump with an external pump that you could squeeze and fill his member up. Needless to say, it got a lot of attention from both faculty and staff."

SamBaxter420

Were they envious?

They were envious, right?

"May have caused them..."

"Unknown brain tumor. May have caused them to swerve into traffic due to location.

Second/different case: pregnancy in murder victim. Made it a double homicide."

kunizite

"It's such a strange sight..."

​"I've had the opportunity to attend a couple of autopsies. One thing I will never forget is the first time you see them put the scalpel in to make the initial "Y" cut that goes from the clavicle to the pubis.

It's such a strange sight to see someone nonchalantly stick a knife into someone's skin so deeply and cut like it's going through butter. And the fact that there is no blood makes it all that much more strange.

It's also strange to see the food that the decedent ate. It stops digesting so if they had just eaten shortly before death, you get some interesting stuff. One person had been at a party and ate potato salad but had clearly just kind of gulped it down. Big chunks of unchewed food that you could have put into a container and no one would have even known it was actually consumed already.

When they got the tree loppers out to cut the rib cage open, that was another treat. Totally unexpected. It wasn't an actual tree lopper but it was the exact nomenclature of one. Just a little shinier and seemed to be a lot better built."

makeanameforme

"But nothing was strange enough..."

"Forensic Histopathology and Autopsy tech here. I've seen really enlarged hearts, mostly due to myocarditis.

Mostly what we call NASH deaths (natural, accidental, suicide, homicide). But nothing was strange enough that I haven't seen it at least twice."

barrettine

So there you have it. If you ever run into an autopsy tech at a party or something, you might as well ask them to tell you about the strangest thing they've seen on the job.

Bonus points if it's a dinner party.

Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!


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