Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
South Australian Perinatal Autopsy Services

South Australian Perinatal Autopsy Services

The Department provides a fetal / perinatal / paediatric autopsy service for all public and private hospitals in South Australia and adjacent interstate hospitals.

Performing an autopsy provides a number of benefits including:

  • determining or confirming the cause of death
  • confirmation of known abnormalities
  • detection of undiagnosed abnormalities
  • assisting the parental grieving process by the provision of mementoes for the parents
  • an important tool in teaching and research.

A perinatal autopsy may reveal unexpected findings which impact on the counselling for the index pregnancy as well as for the siblings and for future pregnancies.

Parents may have difficulty in appreciating the importance of the autopsy at a time of great personal distress and it is important to reassure them that the body of their child will be handled in a sensitive manner with due respect and entirely in accordance with their wishes.

Options include a full autopsy (including consent for microscopic examination) or a limited autopsy which may include photographs, X-rays, external examination, skin biopsy for cytogenetics and placental examination or a combination.  For further information please discuss with the duty pathologist.  Further information on the autopsy and appropriate maternal investigations are available at the following link:

PDF iconMaternal and Perinatal Mortality in South Australia 2016 (751kb)
       (go to 'Appendix 6: South Australian Protocol for investigation of stillbirths' - page 61)

We aim to provide an interim report within one week and a final report within six weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.

Further Information

For further information and how to access our service, please view this Post-mortem examinations document from SA Health website:

PDF iconWhen a Person Dies – The Hospital Post-Mortem Process: Information
      for family and friends


last modified: 06 Mar 2021