Doctors Share Their Biggest Autopsy Discoveries About A Patient's Death

There is little worse for a doctor than losing a patient.

Even if saving them was simply out of their control, a patient dying in their hands will likely weigh on their minds for some time.

It's not much easier for doctors who perform autopsies, as they have to make the less than happy discovery of what caused the death.

More often than not, it turns out to be more or less what they expected.

Though every now and again, they find themselves making a discovery that they never would have guessed in a million years.

A recent Redditor was curious to hear the most shocking discoveries surrounding a patients death doctors made while performing an autopsy, leading them to ask:
"Autopsy doctors of Reddit, what was the biggest revelation you had to a person's death after you carried out the procedure?"

Lucky Cut!

"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."

"Unfortunately this is all the information I know on this story."

"It's been 7 years since I worked at that place."- BurrShotFirst1804

Literally Stuffed

"I worked at a coroner’s office for a while and once we had a guy who we thought had died from an OD."

"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."- Dink-a-sorous

Karma At It's Most Ironic

"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."- quiet-sorrow

It's Easier Than You Think

"As a student in the medical field, I had the opportunity to visit a cadaver lab."

"I was very surprised to see how many people had died from choking."

"Out of the twelve or so cadavers in the lab that day, at least 7 or 8 were from choking."

"I went home and immediately looked up how to perform self Heimlich."- thnx4stalkingme

Not As It Appeared

"During medical school I did a forensic pathology rotation during 4th year."

"Had an autopsy on a woman found in her burned out home."

"She was on home oxygen and the fire started in her bedroom."

"There were also liquor bottles around the home, so they thought was maybe she was drunk, smoking in bed, and caught herself on fire?"

"She was badly charred up on the outside with no real distinguishing characteristics I could see."

"We opened her up and when we got to her lungs they were just the prettiest pink you could imagine."

"Just like in the textbooks."

"This means she wasn't alive to breathe in the smoke and soot from the fire so she had died, spoiler: was murdered, before it was set."

"Ultimately I read in the paper some weeks later it was the boyfriend trying to get insurance money."- MedicalJargon-itis

Surprise Ending

"Training in the Medical Examiners office."

"Elderly woman found dead by herself in her home."

"There was nothing suspicious so I was given the case."

"Took out all the organs, dissected everything, completely unremarkable."

"I cut through the larynx as the last step before I could clean up and finish the case and boom, giant piece of chicken lodged in her windpipe."

"Died choking on dinner."- fangboner

A Closer Look...

"I was an investigator for a state medical examiner for just over 2 years."

"Had a mom that had 'drank herself to death' according to the husband after relapsing on Mother’s Day weekend."

"I just felt like something was off."

"Sent her for an autopsy."

"Had a ruptured liver where dude had essentially beat her till she internally bled to death."

"Later, while out on bail, he stole a semi truck, crashed it in a pond, got out shooting at a deputy, and they killed him."- imahntr

Must Have Been Quite The Movie

"Former homicide detective here."

"Suspicious death, 30-ish male found alone by cleaning staff in the back row of a sparsely attended sci-fi movie."

"Strange scratching wounds around/in mouth."

"Some petechiae in eyes and on cheeks, but no signs of strangulation."

"No obvious signs of chronic illness or disease."

"Presented as healthy, normal adult male."

"Found on his person was a wallet with normal contents, and a single cancelled movie ticket, indicating he went alone."

"Weird, spy movie sh*t going on here."

"Autopsy: a large amount of popcorn compacted in his esophagus."

"Like a half cup."

"Dude was apparently excited by the movie, stuffing popcorn in his mouth, and choked."

"The scratch marks around/in his mouth were self inflicted, trying to dig out popcorn."

"Verified via fingernail scrapings, his was only DNA present."

"Loud movie, he was in the back, no one saw or heard him choke."- sheepwearingajetpack

Med Student

"Med student almost graduated here. A couple of years ago i attended a pathological anatomy course and during a class, the professor showed us some autopsies. Despite the tremendous smell of 4/5 consecutive autopsies, one of them was carried out on a homeless patient that died in the ER probably due to heart failure. The body had massive ascites (fliud in the abdomen), so at first he had to evacuate it. Imagine him cutting the abdomen and the yellow rancid liquid started to come out like a fountain. One of my colleagues fainted."

"Then the next step was to examine the abdominal organs. Imagine the face of every person in the room when it became clear that the patient had some form of the inherited polycystic disease and the liver and kidneys were full of cysts. The liver weighed more than 10kg (normal weight 2-3kg) and the kidneys almost 3 kg each (normally 150g each). The professor was really shocked at the beginning, but then he really enjoyed cutting through the cysts in order to get samples, they popped like airball spreading liquid all over the place. The second collegue fainted."

"The other ones were pretty standard, but I think I will remember forever this one, in particular that liver on the scale. I even took a picture but i can't find it anymore."


"Weirdest Thing I Ever Found"

"Not a doctor, but a whole body scientific donation technician. I'm the person who dissects cadavers after they were donated."

"We very commonly would get young cases, normally overdoses. Had a mid-thirties female, went to medical examiner prior to donation, but they only did an external evaluation."

"I went to check her genitals to see if I could palpate a uterus, found a condom full of pills. Similar to most, the body became a crime scene and we couldn't touch her."

"When we finally were able to continue, they asked us to photograph the pills to send to the examiner's office."

"They were mostly Advil and Zyrtec, easily one of the weirdest things I've ever found."



"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."



"This story circulates every year at my medical school."

"A body came in with a gunshot wound to the chest. There was no exit wound. They tried to locate the bullet during the autopsy. No success. They then did a whole scan (X-ray or CT) of the upper chest/abdomen/pelvis. No bullet.At that point someone said fuck it lets scan the whole body."

"Lo and behold the bullet was detected in the popliteal fossa (area behind the knee). It had embolized/traveled from the heart all the way down the arterial system to the knee where it got stuck in one of the narrower blood vessels."



"My wife is a pathologist assistant and during her schooling carried out the autopsy of a newborn that died minutes after birth. The mother was desperate for a child and had a history of multiple miscarriages at different terms. This was her first time making it full term and all prenatal checkups revealed no problems. The delivery was difficult, but successful, and baby was alive for a short time. Skip to autopsy. All signs point to baby being fully developed. Get to the abdominal cavity and the liver is lacerated and hemorrhages everywhere. During the difficult delivery the resident used too much force with the forceps to pull the baby out. The ruptured liver the caused the baby to bleed out internally."

"Wife was enthusiastic about autopsy up to this point, now has no interest."

User Deleted

Autopsies offer closure to friends and families of the deceased.

Even if sometimes, it results in learning information they likely would have rather not known.

Prolonging the unpleasant work of the doctors, when forced to be the bearer of bad news.

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