Clinical Utility of Autopsy after Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

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Autopsy is the gold standard for establishing the cause of death. We present results of the largest retrospective review of complete autopsies of subjects after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to better define the role of the autopsy in discovering a missed diagnosis. We reviewed the medical chart and autopsy records of 111 patients who had undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from July 1986 to June 2003 from a single center. We compared the cause of death as charted by the clinical team with data obtained from postmortem chart review and autopsy reports. Of 29 (26%) cases when the premortem and postmortem major diagnoses did not agree, only 4 (4%) autopsy records provided data that might have led to the initiation of new treatments, and none of these diagnoses would be missed today with more sensitive and specific diagnostics and improved supportive care. Although autopsies after transplantation can be important educational, research, and epidemiologic tools and provide an emotional benefit to patient's families, in our series they rarely provided missed diagnoses that would alter the management of subsequent patients. Improvements in noninvasive tests for relapse or occult infections may further erode the role of autopsies in discovering missed diagnoses. © 2007 American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.




Hofmeister, C. C., Marinier, D. E., Czerlanis, C., & Stiff, P. J. (2007). Clinical Utility of Autopsy after Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 13(1), 26–30.

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