The second edition of Handbook of Autopsy Practice appeared in 1979 under the title Current Methods of Autopsy Practice (W. B. Saunders Company); that edition was out of print in the early 1980s. Now, over 20 years later, it appeared timely to thoroughly update the material in a third edition by adding what we have learned in the meantime and eliminating text that has become obsolete. There is an acute need for a complete and readily accessible resource for autopsy work because few pathologists still specialize in autopsy practice and, as a consequence, expertise in autopsy technology and autopsy pathology has declined. Our colleagues in the forensic field have remained the only large group of autopsy practitioners. For most other pathologists, the economic situation, time constraints, and the steadily decreasing autopsy rates have made a career in autopsy pathology unattractive. This state of affairs is perpetuated by a lack of interest among many of our young colleagues, partly because the teaching of autopsy pathology and autopsy techniques during most residencies is insufficient. Numerous articles have bemoaned this situation, but the trend, I fear, is irreversible. Still, autopsies will be requested, particularly in complex and difficult situations where the questions remaining after the death of the patient might challenge even experienced autopsy pathologists. Under these circumstances, this Handbook of Autopsy Practice should meet a particular need by providing the prosector with a source of information when it is most required—in the autopsy room. Thus, the text is written primarily for practicing pathologists with at least some autopsy experience; this is not an introductory teaching manual.

The principal organization of the original book has been maintained. Part I is a general text on autopsy methods and all their corollary activities. This part has been updated but also shortened considerably because many methods that were described in detail in the second edition have become obsolete—partly because of the decline of the classical pathology museums, partly because of our increased awareness of the toxic hazards of many chemicals that were used in pathology museums of only a few decades ago. Files of 35-mm slides or disks with digitalized images have largely replaced the museum because funds are lacking—museum space and personnel are costly—and also because interest in museum-type specimen display has waned. We have lost something here, no doubt, but a realistic evaluation of the situation caused me to condense Part I. Nevertheless, many old references were reprinted so that access to the classical techniques would not become too difficult. At the same time, some new developments needed to be addressed, such as the principles of quality assurance and the increased safety precautions that were prompted by the resurgence of potentially fatal infectious diseases.

Part II represents the most important resource during work in the autopsy room by providing tabulations of technical procedures recommended in specific diseases or conditions and by listing expected findings in these situations. Thus, the authors assumed that one or several clinical diagnoses had been rendered, and on this basis, we tabulated the "what to look for" and the "how to dissect and preserve it."

Part III concludes with updated tabulations of weights, measurements, and related data. Major changes include the combination of several tables from the second edition with data from fetuses, infants, and children. Most cardiac weights and measurements were culled from current sources.

I acknowledge with pleasure the contributions of Mr. Darrell Ottman and his fellow technologists, and of all colleagues, past and present, in the Mayo Clinic Autopsy Service. Many colleagues in other Mayo Clinic Departments, and in institutions outside the Mayo Clinic, provided much helpful advice. Drs. Lawrence J. Burgart and Jeffrey L. Myers, both from the Mayo Clinic Division of Anatomic Pathology, critically reviewed the text in Part II on many hematological and respiratory disorders, respectively. I am particularly indebted to Dr. Hagen Blaszyk who, in addition to compiling the weight tables, provided much needed support during the preparation of the manuscript. Drs. Thomas V. Colby from Mayo Clinic Scottsdale and Theresa S. Emory at the Armed Forces Institute of

Pathology helped with the compilation of addresses of tumor and disease registries. Dr. Wayne Duer and Dr. Julia Martin, both from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Department, contributed to the discussion of toxico-logical autopsies and rape cases, respectively. We hope that the book will serve its purpose. I also would like to thank Mr. Thomas H. Moore and his colleagues at Humana Press for their expert support.

Jürgen Ludwig, md

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