Is there a need for autopsies in the management of fungal disease?


Prof. Dr. Manfred Knoke, Faculty of Medicine, University of Greifswald, Wiesenstrasse 40, D-17489 Greifswald, Germany. Tel.: +49 3834 502838. Fax: +49 3834 500721. E-mail:


The autopsy rates in Germany became low like in other European, American and Asian countries. Main reasons for this development are the lack of acceptance of autopsy in the society as well as in the medical profession, the introduction of a requirement for consent, unclear legal position, the public health system, pressure of costs and a change in the field of activity in pathology with much more diagnostics of surgical and biopsy material. The autopsy is missing with respect to the reliability of causes of death and morbidity statistics and other epidemiological studies. Published data indicate that up to 20–30% of patients who die in hospitals have important diseases/lesions that remain undetected before death but that are found at autopsy. For infectious diseases, the data are similar. Therefore, a higher incidence of invasive fungal infections was found. Some rare fungal disorders are diagnosed by autopsy. Only exact death statistics makes specific health care possible and is cost saving in a public health system in the long term. Autopsy remains an important tool for quality control in medical diagnostic and therapeutic activity. It is also essential for fundamental medical education and further training.