what is forensic pathology?


Forensic pathology is a sub-specialty of histopathology, and is concerned with the application of pathological principles to the investigation of the medico-legal aspects of death.

Forensic pathologists are medically qualified doctors who perform autopsies (postmortem examinations) on those who have died suddenly, unexpectedly, or as a result of trauma or poisoning.

The forensic investigation of death is a multi-disciplinary activity, involving the collaboration between pathologists, crime scene investigators (CSIs), forensic scientists, and other specialists, such as anthropologists, entomologists, odontologists (dentists) and many other experts.

Autopsy findings are combined with the results of other investigations, including the microscopic examination of organs and tissues removed at autopsy, toxicological analyses (of blood and urine, for example), and correlated with the available clinical or medical history of the deceased, as well as the circumstances of their death, in order to answer questions relating to their death.

The issues raised by a death may include:

  • identification of the deceased,
  • the medical cause of death,
  • the interpretation of injuries, and
  • the manner of death (in some jurisdictions), i.e. accident, suicide or homicide



Source: Wikimedia


Those who have dissected or inspected many bodies have at least learned to doubt, while those who are ignorant of anatomy and do not take the trouble to attend to it, are in no doubt at all.

Giovanni Morgagni (1682-1771)


Taceant colloquia. Effugiat risus. Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae. (Let conversation cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where death delights to help the living.)

Latin proverb (Saukko P, Knight B. Knight's Forensic Pathology (3rd Edition) 2004. Arnold Publishers.

What does a forensic pathologist do?



Dr Michael Pollanen on the role of a forensic pathologist


an introduction to forensic pathology



A well-run mortuary doesn’t really smell; it is washed frequently and properly ventilated, and most bodies examined are fresh. But I’d never smelled anything like that putrefied body; it was an overwhelming odor, dense, wet, vile, almost shockingly sweet, like the vomit of a drunk; it seemed to coat the skin and settle into clothes. I felt nauseated, and stepped back outside the room, closed the door behind me and leaned against the wall, retching.

Dr Jonathan Hayes. Forensic Pathologist New York City.

Notes on forensic medicine: smell


Historical illustration of a pathologist examining a body at a death scene (pre-DNA era)

Source: Science Against Crime, Kind S

forensic medicine and pathology of the vulnerable patient on Pinterest


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Forensic pathology in action - In the mortuary

Knight's Forensic Pathology (4th Edition)

Simpson's Forensic Medicine (13th Edition)

forensic pathology - principles and practice

Forensic Pathology of Trauma

forensic medicine - clinical and pathological aspects


Spitz and Fisher's Medicolegal Investigation of Death (4th Edition)

Oxford Handbook of Forensic Medicine



normal histology of relevance to forensic pathologists on Pinterest


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Revise your basic pathology knowledge



Basic pathology revision - inflammation and sepsis




Anatomy revision resources can be found here ....

comparative anatomy relevant to 'found remains' (human or not?)


Source: Kikkerland Anatomical Puzzles @ shewalkssoftly.com
pig lungs
source: wikipedia
pig larynx
source: wikipedia


medical word roots, prefixes and suffixes (via Wikipedia)




Time of death, Snyder Sachs, J

Buy it here

See it at Google Books here

Amid the plethora of popular books on forensic science, it's hard for writers to find a new slant. But Jessica Sachs has found one: her main themes are entomology, botany and ecology, and in particular how they help to establish time of death. Thankfully, Sachs fully acknowledges the biological variations that prohibit the ludicrous accuracy with which time of death is estimated in so many novels and television dramas.

Knight B. In the New Scientist 2001 (read the full review here)

Forensic pathology education on Flipboard



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Source: Wikimedia

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Teaching opportunity

I am looking for someone to develop and teach a Forensic Medicine module at the University of Winchester, starting on the 22nd Sep for 12 weeks on a Monday. Ideally, I am looking for someone with some teaching experience and an ability to teach a broad range of topics (toxicology, death investigation, sexual abuse, etc). Please email me for further details. Maru.Mormina@winchester.ac.uk


Re: Teaching opportunity

Good evening

Are you still looking for someone for this?

Kind regards

Barbara Borek



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autopsy resources - Evernote notebook


Follow this link to access a collection of autopsy-related resources with comments.

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