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Autopsy, examination of the external structures and internal organs of a dead body for the purpose of determining the cause of death or for studying the damage done by disease; also called necropsy or postmortem examination. The law requires that every cause of death be verified by a physician or by a coroner's jury. If the cause of death is known, the death certificate is signed and no autopsy is needed, but if authorities are uncertain of the conditions leading to death, such as in a suicide or homicide, an autopsy may be indicated.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Augusta to Barlach, Ernst