I’ve put the bulk of this post behind a cut since it’s fairly graphic in parts. (You have now been officially warned!)
This description of an autopsy is drawn from my personal experiences as a forensic photographer and morgue tech. Other Coroner or Medical Examiner’s offices may have different procedures or methods. This is also a very “basic” description, just to give a general idea of what happens in an autopsy. Autopsies for homicides or suspicious deaths are much more detailed and complex; there are specific methodologies for investigating gunshot wounds, strangulations, blunt force injury, etc. If you intend to write an autopsy into a story, I highly recommend speaking with a Coroner/Medical Examiner to get specific information. For more basic details, I’m willing to answer questions to the best of my ability.
Also, I have to state my absolute pet peeve: a morgue cooler is NOT a freezer. (Think about how hard it would be to autopsy a frozen slab of meat!) Morgue coolers are just that–coolers, set at about 34-36 degrees. And, remember, meat still spoils in a cooler, and bodies still decompose. Autopsies are seldom delayed more than a few days, simply because doing an autopsy on a decomposed body is a)far less revealing, and b) gross.)
And now: The Cutting Room.