Lung autopsy

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Author: Mikael Häggström [notes 1]
Autopsy of the lungs, not including larger pulmonary vessels (instead summarized at Autopsy - Other thorax).

Basic autopsy cutting

In non-forensic Autopsy:

The lungs may be cut after removing the heart through cutting through the major vessels close to it, or by removing each lung by cuts by each lung hilum.
  • Dissect the pulmonary arterial system, from the pulmonary trunk and including at least segmental arteries.
  • Dissect the bronchial tree, at least to segmental bronchi. Check for obstructions.
  • Weigh each lung (possibly first if having cut each lung at the hilus).
  • Make some additional sections through the lung parenchyma. Squeeze at each side to detect any pus and edema.[1]
For context, see Autopsy

Gross evaluation

Gross pathology of miliary "millet seed-like" tuberculosis.
  • A spongy consistency, and watery and frothy liquid being pressed from the parenchyma, indicates simple edema.[2]
  • A spongy consistency and reddish (blood-stained) fluid being pressed from the parenchyma, indicates acute congestion.[2]
  • A brownish or dark reddish color of the fluid pressed from the parenchyma indicates chronic congestion, and may not have a spongy consistency.[2]

Normal weight:

Left Right
Men[3] 112-675g 155-720g
Women[4] 105-515g 101-589g

Fixation

Generally 10% neutral buffered formalin.

See also: General notes on fixation

Microscopic evaluation

Look for the most common pathologic lung findings:[5][6]

  • Alveolar fluid. Further information: Alveolar fluid
  • Vascular congestion, which can usually be seen easiest in the alveolar walls. It indicates left sided heart failure, especially when seen together with alveolar fluid. Further information: Chronic pulmonary congestion
  • Inflammatory cells, where a mild to moderate lymphocytic infiltrate is consistent with with heart failure, while neutrophils indicate pneumonia. pigmented macrophages of the lung may indicate chronic heart failure.
  • Mycobacteria in regions of the world with substantial prevalence
  • Carcinoma Further information: Lung tumor
  • Aspiration: Other foreign contents in airways. Further information: Aspiration in autopsy

Main diagnoses

  • Left sided heart failure:
  • Acute congestion manifests as alveolar capillaries being engorged with blood, as well as associated alveolar septal edema and/or focal intra-alveolar hemorrhage.[7]
  • Chronic pulmonary congestion manifests as thickened and fibrotic septa, and alveolar spaces containing numerous pigmented lung macrophages.[7]
If respiratory epithelial shedding is seen, look for vascular leakage, mucus hypersecretion and/or widespread airway narrowing, together indicating asthma death.[8] Otherwise, it is a frequent postmortem change.

Additional potential findings are mentioned in the general Lungs article.

Reporting

Report findings and if they are consistent with already known diagnoses.

Example:

Histopathology of pulmonary congestion and siderophages.jpg
Presence of sideophages indicating chronic heart failure. Prominent vessels, including alveolar capillaries, and a moderate lymphocytic infiltrate, consistent with chronic heart failure or acute decompensation.

Further information: Autopsy

Notes

  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.

Main page

References

  1. Burton, Julian L.; Rutty, Guy N. (2010). The Hospital Autopsy A Manual of Fundamental Autopsy Practice (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0340965146. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 page 62 in: J. Martin Beattie (2014). Post-Mortem Methods . Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107418004. 
  3. Molina, D. Kimberley; DiMaio, Vincent J.M. (2012). "Normal Organ Weights in Men ". The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 33 (4): 368–372. doi:10.1097/PAF.0b013e31823d29ad. ISSN 0195-7910. 
  4. Molina, D. Kimberley; DiMaio, Vincent J. M. (2015). "Normal Organ Weights in Women ". The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 36 (3): 182–187. doi:10.1097/PAF.0000000000000175. ISSN 0195-7910. 
  5. India: Tiwana, Kanwardeep Kaur; Nibhoria, Sarita; Gupta, Manvi; Yadav, Ashish (2014). "Histopathological Spectrum in Lung Autopsies- A 50 Case Study ". Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology 8 (2): 172. doi:10.5958/0973-9130.2014.00709.9. ISSN 0973-9122. 
  6. United States: Dr. Stanley Adams. Pulmonary Lung Conditions Found at Autopsy. Washington Forensic Services. Retrieved on 2019-12-20.
  7. 7.0 7.1 . Congestion. Humpath (2005-12-19).
  8. Madea, B (2014). Handbook of forensic medicine . Hoboken, N.J: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-118-57062-3. OCLC 872114659.