Autopsy guidelines series

The College autopsy guidelines are technical documents which have been written as an aid for practising pathologists carrying out a coroners post mortem. As such this guidance may contain some distressing information and is not intended for friends and relatives of the deceased. Detailed information on post mortem for members of the public can be found here and on the Human Tissue Authority website.

NICE has accredited the process used by The Royal College of Pathologists to produce its autopsy guidelines. Accreditation is valid for five years from 25 July 2017 and is retrospectively applicable to documents produced using the processes described in our guidance for authors. All guidance produced following the accredited process bears the NICE accreditation mark. More information on accreditation can be found on the NICE website.

Published documents

Documents under consultation:

Members can comment on draft documents here.

Documents under review: 

The College is currently undertaking a large programme to update the autopsy scenarios originally published as guidance in 2005. This update will ensure that our guidance meets the modern demands on autopsy practice and ensures they relate pragmatically to coronial practice which constitutes over 90% of post mortem work in the UK. 

This update will be complete by the end of 2018.  


New documents in development:


  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Precautions for infectious autopsies
  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Traumatic brain injury
  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Post-mortem examination of patients with cerebrovascular disease


  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Removal of radioactive implants (prostate)