Evaluating and diagnosing neurological disorders is complicated and complex. Many of the same symptoms happen in different combinations among the different disorders. To further complicate the diagnostic process, many disorders do not have definitive causes, markers, or tests. Examination of brain tissue after death is currently the only definitive way to diagnose the specific neurodegenerative disorders of an individual.
The information obtained from the autopsy, provides family members with invaluable family medical history. The official diagnosis may have ramifications for first-degree relatives. With this pathological diagnosis in hand, a genetic counselor can have a much more productive and informed discussion with the next of kin about the potential implications and risks for family members. Identification of a genetic mutation, if it exists, can be important for other family members, particularly as potential treatments become available in the future.
The error rate for diagnosing some brain disorders during life is around 50%. There are no blood test that can confirm the diagnoses of neurological disorders. A brain-only autopsy is the only way to confirm or contradict the clinical diagnosis and to determine what disease or combination of diseases that may have been present.
Who performs the Autopsy?
Every Brain-Only autopsy is performed by a seasoned Board Certified NeuroPathologist and an autopsy assistant.