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Minerva Medicolegale 2008 March;128(1):1-7

language: English

Photographic documentation of autopsies

Varetto L. 1, Gargallo C. 1, Botta G. 2, Monaco M. 3

1 Department of Anatomy Pharmacology and Legal Medicine University of Turin, Turin, Italy
2 Department of Pathological Anatomy O.I.R.M.-Sant’Anna Hospital, Turin, Italy
3 Photo technician University of Turin, Turin, Italy


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Procedures for performing the correct documentation of an autopsy are not accurate. Some suggestions can be found in the current literature regarding technical notions useful for personal identification and for discovering and dating traumatic wounds and other injuries (blood stains and the like), but a complete and organic study is still lacking. The aim of this review is to present some simple technical instructions for the use of photographic equipment, with particular reference to digital cameras (even if all suggestions can practically also be applied to traditional photography), feasible even in less than optimal conditions and situations, as well as some suggestions for obtaining a well-organized photographic record of an autopsy. Furthermore, the correct way to provide the photographic documentation of clothing, general somatic characteristics, distinctive features, stains and marks, thanathology, external lesions and internal examination is here discussed. The article supplies also some suggestions concerning fetus-neonatal autopsy. All the following suggestions are experience based and try to fill the lack of more scientific studies. Therefore, the purpose of the work is to supply further contributions to the use of photography in forensic medicine, so that in the future common guidelines approved by the scientific community can be laid down and become an useful tool for those who perform autopsies but who normally have only basic notions of photographic technique.

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