What is a picture worth? Digital imaging applications in autopsy reports

Bobbi Pritt, Pamela Gibson, Kumarasen Cooper, Nicolas Hardin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Context. - An image-enhanced report (IER) containing color digital images can serve as an educational tool and document important gross and microscopic findings in anatomic pathology. Objective. - To determine the clinical impression of IERs on an academic autopsy service. Design. - Autopsy IERs were initiated at this institution in December 2001. From January 2002 to July 2003, 261 hospital-service autopsies were performed; color images were produced for 39 (15%) of these autopsies. Of these IERs, 29 were distributed to 74 hospital-employed physicians. Each hospital physician recipient was sent a 6-question e-mail survey to evaluate his or her impression of image quality and added value. Results. - Of the 74 hospital-employed physicians sent an IER, 41 responded to the survey (response rate, 55%). Twenty-one respondents recalled receiving a report with color images. Image quality was uniformly rated as good or excellent. Ninety-five percent thought the images increased their understanding of the report, and 76% thought that the images increased the utility of the report. All respondents stated they would (or did) use the images for educational purposes. Twenty-one percent of all respondents thought the presence of color images would increase their likelihood of requesting a future autopsy. Conclusions. - Color digital images are perceived as a valuable addition to the autopsy report. Although clinicians did not consider color images a strong motivator to request a future autopsy, most thought that the images enhanced their understanding and the utility of the report. All respondents stated they would use the images to educate themselves, medical students, residents, and/or the patient's family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1250
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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