Forensics & autopsy
CNS autopsy

Topic Completed: 1 January 2006

Minor changes: 8 July 2020

Revised: 3 January 2019, last major update January 2006

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Autopsy CNS [title]

Nat Pernick, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 319
Page views in 2020 to date: 461
Cite this page: Pernick N. CNS autopsy. website. Accessed October 20th, 2020.
Standard CNS sections
  • Spinal cord (2 - 3 levels), medulla, pons, midbrain, cerebellum, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, hippocampus, thalamus, parietal cortex, occipital cortex, cingulate gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, paracentral cortex and pituitary
Sample gross description
  • The scalp and skull are entered in a standard biparietal, postauricular manner. Then dura is intact and the sagittal sinus is patent. The prefixation brain weight is __ grams. The formalin fixed brain weights __ grams. The cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres are symmetrical with no masses, areas of discoloration or gross lesions identified. There is no evidence of midline shift. There is no uncal, subfalcine or tonsillar softening or grooving. The sulci / gyri are unremarkable, with no atrophy identified. The leptomeninges are thin, translucent and without hemorrhage. The circle of Willis is intact, with no atherosclerotic plaque. Coronal sections of the cerebral hemispheres show well delineated gray and white matter structures. The ventricles are symmetric and not dilated. Distal blood vessels are unremarkable.

  • Axial sections of the midbrain, pons and medulla are symmetrical with well delineated gray and white matter structures. The substantia nigra and locus ceruleus are well pigmented. The aqueduct and fourth ventricle are unremarkable. Parasagittal sections of the cerebellum show well delineated white and gray matter structures with prominent folia.

  • The pituitary is removed from the sella and is grossly unremarkable. The spinal cord is removed by an anterior approach. Axial sections of the spinal cord are symmetric with well delineated gray and white matter.
Sample microscopic description
  • The spinal cord shows ... The midbrain, pons and medulla show mild neuronal loss and gliosis consistent with the patient's age. The cerebellum, basal ganglia and thalamus are unremarkable. The hippocampus shows no senile plaques or neurofibrillary tangles. The cerebral neocortex is unremarkable.
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02