A systematic review of global autopsy rates in all-cause mortality and young sudden death.

Elizabeth D Paratz; Stephanie J Rowe; Dion Stub; Andreas Pflaumer; Andre La Gerche
Autopsy is the gold standard method for determining cause of death. Young sudden death (SD) is a prototype condition in which autopsy is universally recommended. The aim of this review was to quantify real-world global rates of autopsy in either all-cause death or young SD. A systematic review was conducted. Rates of autopsy in all-cause death and in young SD were determined in each country using scientific and commercial search engines. In total, 59 of 195 countries (30.3%) reported autopsy rates in all-cause death, with rates varying from 0.01%-83.9%. Almost all of these figures derived from academic publications rather than governmental statistics. Only 16 of 195 countries (8.2%) reported autopsy rates in the context of young SD, with reported rates ranging from 5%-100%. The definition of "young" was heterogeneous. No governmental statistics reported autopsy rates in young SD. Risks of bias included inability to verify reported figures, heterogeneity in reporting of clinical vs medicolegal autopsies, and the small number of studies identified overall, resulting in the consistent exclusion of low- and middle-income countries. In conclusion, most countries globally do not report autopsy rates in either all-cause death (69.7%) or in SD (92.8%). Without transparent reporting of autopsy rates, global burdens of disease and rates of sudden cardiac death cannot be reliably calculated.
ISSN 1556-3871
Published 01 Apr 2023
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 607 613 607-613
DOI 10.1016/j.hrthm.2023.01.008
Type Systematic Review | Journal Article | Review | Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't