Abstract: When patients die after chiropractic or surgical interventions of the cervical spine, pathologists tasked with the autopsy are frequently overwhelmed by the complicated anatomy, laborious dissections, complex operative procedures and surgical hardware, and the necessity to differentiate artifacts from trauma and disease. However, abundant data can be obtained from careful evaluation of the cervical spine in situ; extensive postmortem diagnostic imaging procedures; detailed dissections of the removed, formalin-fixed and decalcified spine; and histology. This study presents a regimented, stepwise approach to the evaluation of the cervical spine in these difficult cases, promotes uniform assessment, facilitates diagnoses, and supports the accumulation of otherwise hard-to-come-by reference material that can be of value in future cases. The resultant detailed autopsy findings may prove useful in the medico-legal death investigation process. Autopsy findings may also be of great value to health care providers involved in quality assurance processes.
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