A postmortem examination or autopsy. Necropsies have been done for more than 2,000 years but during most of this time they were rarely done, and then only for legal purposes. The Roman physician Antistius performed one of the earliest necropsies on record. In 44 B.C., he examined Julius Caesar and documented 23 wounds, including a final fatal stab to the chest. In 1410, the Catholic Church itself ordered an autopsy — on Pope Alexander V, to determine whether his successor had poisoned him. No evidence of this was found. By the turn of the 20th century, prominent physicians such as Rudolf Virchow in Berlin, Karl Rokitansky in Vienna, and William Osler in Baltimore won popular support for the practice. They defended it as a tool of discovery, one that was needed to identify the cause of tuberculosis, reveal how to treat appendicitis, and establish the existence of Alzheimer disease. They showed that necropsies prevented errors — that, without them, doctors could not know when their diagnoses were incorrect. Most deaths were a mystery then, and perhaps what clinched the argument was the notion that necropsies could provide families with answers — give the story of a loved one's life a comprehensible ending. By the end of the Second World War, the necropsy was firmly established as a routine part of death in North America and Europe. For more information, see Autopsy (Postmortem Examination).
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SYN: autopsy (1). [necro- + G. opsis, view]

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nec·rop·sy 'nek-.räp-sē n, pl -sies AUTOPSY esp an autopsy performed on an animal
necropsy vt, -sied; -sy·ing to perform an autopsy esp. on an animal

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nec·rop·sy (nekґrop-se) [Gr. nekros dead + opsis view] examination of a body after death; see autopsy.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Necropsy — Nec rop*sy, n. [Gr. nekro s a dead body + ? sight: cf. F. n[ e]cropsie.] (Med.) A post mortem examination or inspection; an autopsy. See {Autopsy}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • necropsy — (n.) post mortem examination, 1839, from NECRO (Cf. necro ) + opsis a sight (see EYE (Cf. eye) (n.)). As a verb, recorded from 1889 …   Etymology dictionary

  • necropsy — [ne kräs′kə pēne′kräp sē] n. pl. necropsies [see NECRO & OPSIS] an examination of a dead body; postmortem: also necroscopy [ne kräs′kə pē] …   English World dictionary

  • necropsy — /nek rop see/, n., pl. necropsies, v., necropsied, necropsying. n. 1. the examination of a body after death; autopsy. v.t. 2. to perform a necropsy on. [1855 60; NECR + OPSY1] * * * …   Universalium

  • necropsy — 1. noun /neˈkrɒpsi/ The pathological dissection of a corpse; particularly to determine cause of death. Applicable to the examination of any life form. Syn: autopsy, post mortem 2. verb /neˈkrɒpsi/ The act of performing a necropsy …   Wiktionary

  • necropsy — nec•rop•sy [[t]ˈnɛk rɒp si[/t]] n. pl. sies, 1) med the examination of a body after death; autopsy 2) med to perform a necropsy on • Etymology: 1855–60 …   From formal English to slang

  • necropsy — /ˈnɛkrɒpsi/ (say nekropsee) noun (plural necropsies) 1. the examination of a body after death; an autopsy. 2. the examination of a dead animal to discover the cause of death, especially at the outbreak of a new disease. Also, necroscopy… …   Australian English dictionary

  • necropsy —   n. post mortem examination.    ♦ necroscopy, n. necropsy …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • necropsy — I. noun (plural sies) Date: 1856 autopsy 1; especially an autopsy performed on an animal II. transitive verb ( sied; sying) Date: 1927 to perform an autopsy on …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • necropsy — examination and dissection of a dead specimen to determine cause of death or changes due to disease; also used to describe taking of samples for studies such as molecular analyses …   Dictionary of ichthyology

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