Don’t know that I’ve seen this topic come up before, but I am wondering if it is customary for an autopsy to be performed when a dialysis patient dies, and if so, how it is arranged for? I’ve heard some bad reports, don’t know if they are accurate or not, of in-center patients who die on the machine being wisked away with an autopsy never performed. If this is the case very often, seems like home patients would have more control in this respect. I know, gross subject, but an essential one nevertheless.

Well here’s a cheery little subject! My sense is–and I did spend a few minutes trying to track down some data, but didn’t find much–that autopsies are by far the exception, not the rule, unless a crime has been committed. There are so many CSI-type TV shows now that folks get the sense that everyone who dies gets an autopsy. This is not the case. In this Wikipedia article (, they say, “In most Western countries the number of autopsies performed in hospitals has been decreasing every year since 1955.” So, it wouldn’t surprise me at all that folks who die on dialysis would NOT get an autopsy–most folks don’t, and in these cases, the cause of death is presumed to be kidney and/or heart failure.

Hi Folks
Hi Jane

I’m glad you brought this up. I have often wonder if they break down the causes of death of in center folks. I would have thought it would be needed for legal and medical reasons and the only way a person might not have it done would be religious.

Bob OBrien

Dori, you’ve got to be kidding! You actually spent time researching this! Now I’m worried about you girl!

I don’t understand why an autopsy would be necessary. Nothing’s gonna bring the person back and we all know the kidney(s) will be shot. Most ESRD patients usually die of something else, even if their kidney disease contributed.

However, personally I’m planning on having a very thorough autopsy. I’ve decided to donate my body to science. They’re going to get a look at a totally ugly thing and the medical students are probably going to get one heck of a big laugh. I abhor funerals and decided many years ago I would be cremated. But even cremation nowadays cost too much money so I learned that if you donate your body they do the cremation after they’re done with whatever poking around they do and dispose of the ashes as you direct — they will also return them to your kin. I’m sure they’ll have fun with me and find all kinds of interesting things since I’ve been through the mill. I think funerals are overrated and a complete waste of money. Let my survivors have the bucks while the med students have the chucks!