Post-Mortem Procedures

The following lists both the ideal and not ideal conditions that exist on this study for collection of specimens:


  1. Post Mortem Interval (PMI) is <24 hours
  2. Ideal tissue collection minimally includes brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, muscle, thymus (if available) lymph node, and spleen. Tissue is suitable for freezing and formalin fixation
  3. Post mortem fluid collection includes cardiac aspiration of clot and serum ( if possible) and CSF
  4. Some sites may also collect samples of other tissues such as tumor, heart, lungs, gut, skin, endocrine, etc., on a case by case basis.

Not Ideal

  1. Prolonged PMI because pt. is found dead at home, uncertain time of death, legal or transport problems in retrieving remains
  2. Tissue is not available or is seriously damaged by prolonged PMI, hypoxia/ischemia, prolonged period on respirator, herniation, radiation etc. Only formalin fixation can be used.
  3. Clotting/lysis begins in perimortem period. Cardiac fluid (if extracted), may contain debris and hemolytic products. Cannot extract intact WBCs. CSF is extracted from brain or spine by use of a needle and syringe. Frequently such CSF contains tissue, blood or cellular debris. Usually has to be centrifuged to remove RBC so CSF WBC rarely collected/stored.
  4. Tissues such as gut are particularly fragile; family may refuse to donate certain organs

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