The cause announced at the time of death is not always a sure thing. After all, the doctor in the final moments likely wouldn't know if, say, a wrench was kicking around in there somewhere.
A doctor performing an autopsy typically begins the procedure with a state cause of death. Cutting the corpse open is intended to merely confirm that hypothesis.
There are the rare occasions, though, when the hypothesis is wrong. The innards of the body hold all sorts of novel information and some other glaring cause shows itself. And yes, it can take some digging.
These doctors of Reddit shared the times when a surprise was encountered during the autopsy. And often, these moments told a story that shed some new, often complicating light on the deceased person.
"Worked at an animal hospital. They did necropsies for zoos all the time. An alligator died, and they shipped it to the hospital, refrigerated etc to stop the decay."
"They took it out and put it up on the table. After doing all the paperwork, they started opening up the alligator. After the first cut, the alligator opened its eyes."
"Turns out it wasn't dead, the zoo vet mistook an illness for death and the low temperature put it basically into a coma."
Guy Managed to Get a Lot of Muffin in There
"I worked at a coroner's office for a while and once we had a guy who we thought had died from an OD on meth."
"Well we started the autopsy and i went to cut his lungs out and blueberry muffin mix started coming out of them. I stuck my finger in his mouth and it was full of blueberry muffin mix. And it was in throat."
"Turns out he got just high enough to pass out while eating the muffin mix and he ended up choking to death."
Clinically Proven Karma
"I did the autopsy of both a robber and his victim. The robber shot the victim in the back when he tried to escape in a motorcycle, and the robber was shot by the police in the exact same situation."
"What's interesting is that they both died by exactly the same lesion. Both of them had their 4th lumbar vertebra shattered and their aorta (main artery of the body) sectioned at the same level. I thought of it like an extreme example of instant karma."
The Sleeping Giant
"When my parents were in medical school they attended an autopsy of a patient who had died in a car accident."
"Autopsy revealed that apparently this guy had survived a chest shot in Vietnam years ago that the surgeons/medics left in rather than perform risky surgery, the accident had migrated the bullet to his heart and was ruled the cause of death."
An Elaborate Approach to Murder
"My dad used to perform autopsies."
"His best story was that they were brought a body that has no real indication of any issues. After examining the body, the only thing of note was that there was blood coming out of the guys rectum."
"They begin the autopsy and the guys organs are completely liquidified and the body cavity is filled with lead shot. It became apparent really quickly that someone had shoved a shotgun up his a** and pulled the trigger."
"This was in the 70's and I still have to wonder what this guy did to piss someone off enough to get a shotgun up his a**."
A Zombie Scare
"Not mine but a Doctor i used to work with. Back when he was in school, he would do his cadaver labs really late at night.(too many people during the day.) One time it was really late. Around 2am."
"He was listening to his lecture on his head phones and he saw the cadavers arm move/twitch. He thought it was just his mind playing tricks on him. Then he saw it again. Proceeded to run away in a panic."
"He told a few of his classmates what happened but nobody believed him. Next day they had a group cadaver lab with the same cadaver. The arm twitched yet again."
"The professor did some digging and it turns out the patients pacemaker was still fully functional and occasionally fired, causing the arm twitch."
"He was so relieved. He thought there was a zombie in there."
Autopsies Can Bring Justice
"My friend had to do an autopsy on a baby. The dad claimed she died after rolling off a couch. My friend found that the kid was slammed against a hard surface multiple times. Dad eventually admitted he hit the baby against the wall after she wouldn't stop crying."
"My friend had to quit that job cause it was so taxing mentally."
All That Remained
"My friend once cremated a lady and when they pulled the table out there were 3 sets of forceps sitting there."
"Most likely she died in surgery but I always thought it was crazy those were left in and whatever metal they're made of clearly has a higher melting point than cremation temps."
"A skeleton was found in the near mountains, it was very clear he died in an accident 20+ years ago, however he had to be identified via DNA."
"Turned out his dad was not his dad, but his uncle. Sparked a whole public family drama show, cause the family was well known in my area."
Keep An Eye On Your Cows
"I'm a veterinarian and sometimes I do necropsy (basically autopsy for animals) and one of the more notable case involved a prized Wagyu cow that died mysteriously. Wagyu cows are very expensive to rear and fetch a good price at the slaughterhouse."
"After cutting her open, I found metal wires extending from her stomach into her heart. It's what we call 'hardware disease'. Apparently the cow decided that eating metal wires for constructing fences was a good idea."
"Normally the farmhands are quite good at keeping these hazards away from the inquisitive bovines but I guess slip up do happen from time to time."
"I'm not a doctor but my dad was a police officer and once a reporter came to the 'lab' and my father was escorting her, she watched a full autopsy, but when my father started eating his sandwich it gave a loud crack and poor lady thought that the body made the sound and threw up in the middle of the autopsy."
Almost Got Away With it Too
"Cop here, interesting story."
"Guy goes head on into a concrete underpass at 100mph. Dead on impact. Massive damage to body, car, etc. Coroner says probably suicide, possible medical condition, but damage is too severe to determine exact cause. Either way, blunt force trauma is ruled."
"A decade goes by, this is not on anyone's mind whatsoever."
"Guy gets arrested for an unrelated homicide. Confesses to that murder and a few others.... one of which is the crash. Apparently, argument with drugs ensued between the two and bad guy shoots other in the head. To cover his tracks he pins the accelerator in victim car at night and launches it down road."
"2nd autopsy is performed on the body and sure enough, bullet was in the skull."
"Gold Tooth and All"
"Not an autopsy doctor but in my college intro anatomy class, we had an elderly female cadaver who's COD was considered 'natural causes.' A few weeks into class after we got into the trachea we found out she'd choked to death on a fragment of her own denture. Gold tooth and all.. Weird deal."
Cause of Death: Tampon
"Saw an autopsy before I started med school at the county medical examiner where a younger lady was found long after she died face down in her bathroom. She was obese and not well cared for so we thought it had to be something related to diet."
"During the autopsy, found a severely infected tampon. It ended up being toxic shock."
"Not me but my boyfriend while he was in university got to see someone do autopsies once, and they were examining a body that had been marked as died of pneumonia or something, but a closer look (idk how they do autopsies) showed that his brain was completely liquified."
"The professor explained that this what happens if someone messes up a lumbar puncture and THAT'S what this guy actually died of, and they just said it was something up to cover it up."
The Last Straw
"My husband had a friend who died while playing call of duty. His friends who were there said he got frustrated and threw his head back and died . It was a freak accident."
"During the autopsy they found that he had injured his neck badly the week before in a wreck and this final throw back of the head made the injury lethal."
"My dad was murdered and when we got the autopsy report back we learned he had severe liver cirrhosis. He was a lovable alcoholic and I think our whole family was in hopeful denial about the state of his health."
"It was strange to have to process the fact that he was dying anyway, and to be strangely grateful he died quickly by gunshot rather than torturously by liver failure."
A Deadly Kink
"My best friends mom had one case where a lady choked and suffocated on some food. Well they used a suction tube and removed the food but it was actually poop. Lady died of a feces fetish."
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