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Autopsy Pathology

The Autopsy Pathology Division performs approximately 400 autopsies a year to determine the cause of death, confirm clinical diagnoses, evaluate the effects of therapy and study disease process. In addition to examining patients who died within the hospital, we also perform private autopsies at the request of family members, physicians or researchers.


The Autopsy Service has performed more than 53,000 autopsies since it was established in 1889. Our service accepts cases from outside parties, including families who want to establish or confirm findings on cause of death and to resolve questions about possible medical negligence or hereditary disease.

Autopsies are performed by house officers under close supervision of senior house officers and attendings. Special procedures may include radiography, angiography, microbiology, photography and electron microscopy. For unusual or complex cases, the expertise and resources of Johns Hopkins are available to us for specialized consultation.

We maintain records and slides of every autopsy performed by the service, which are available to investigators for review. During the more than 100 years since the service began, this information has been used in hundreds of studies, especially those related to investigations of the development of disease.


Expert Consultation
Dr. Barbara J. Crain is director of the Autopsy Service. For the past 25 years, her special interest has been general autopsy neuropathology with emphasis on neurodegenerative disease, especially the manifestations of Alzheimer's disease. She is past Chair of the Neuropathology Committee of the College of American Pathologists and past Vice President for Professional Affairs for the American Association of Neuropathologists.

Special capabilities and services
The Autopsy Pathology Division at Hopkins is one of the few facilities in the area to offer its services to outside parties interested in private autopsies. We can help coordinate the necessary arrangements for transporting the body and getting the necessary permits for the autopsy.

Timely Results

The Autopsy Service strives for accuracy, completeness, and timeliness in performing and reporting on autopsies. We are sensitive to issues of concern to families, including funeral arrangements and to the resolutions of cause of death, appropriateness of care, and possible genetic implications of disease.

A preliminary report is available within two days of completing the gross examination and review. Generally, the final report, which includes the results of histologic and other studies, is complete within 30 days. Staff members provide an interpretation of the autopsy report and will consult with the family.

Specimens or materials for review can be sent by overnight courier. Physicians are available for phone consults 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., EST, Monday through Friday.

Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratories
1620 McElderry Street
Reed Hall Room 315
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone 410-955-2405
Fax 410-614-7712


Dr. Barbara Crain

Barbara J. Crain, M.D., Ph.D., FCAP


Education and Training

Professional Interests
Neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer's disease), Cerebrovascular disease, Epilepsy, Diagnostic electron microscopy

Notable Accomplishments

Major Professional Leadership

Special Ordering Instructions

The extent of the autopsy examination may vary. Complete autopsy examination is preferable, but partial or brain-only examinations may be directed to answer specific questions. Slide and medical review of autopsies performed elsewhere will be reviewed for second opinion.

To make arrangements for a private autopsy:
Please call the hospital operator (410-955-5000) and ask them to page the autopsy pathologist on call.

NOTE: Normally, funeral directors handle transport and delivery of bodies. Our office will work with outside parties to coordinate these arrangements.