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Arch Pathol Lab Med ; 2021 Jan 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1032706


CONTEXT: This study represents the largest compilation to date of clinical and postmortem data from decedents with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It will augment previously published small series of autopsy case reports, refine clinicopathologic considerations, and improve the accuracy of future vital statistical reporting. OBJECTIVE: To accurately reflect the pre-existing diseases and pathologic conditions of decedents with Sars-CoV-2 infection through autopsy. DESIGN: Comprehensive data from 135 autopsy evaluations of COVID-19-positive decedents is presented, including histologic assessment. Postmortem examinations were performed by 36 pathologists at 19 medical centers or forensic institutions in the United States and Brazil. Data from each autopsy were collected through the online submission of multiple choice and openended survey responses. RESULTS: Patients dying of or with COVID-19 had an average of 8.89 pathologic conditions documented at autopsy, spanning a combination of prior chronic disease and acute conditions acquired during hospitalization. Virtually all decedents were cited as having more than one preexisting condition, encompassing an average of 2.88 such diseases each. Clinical conditions during terminal hospitalization were cited 395 times for the 135 autopsied decedents and predominantly encompassed acute failure of multiple organ systems and/or impaired coagulation. Myocarditis was rarely cited. CONCLUSIONS: Cause-of-death statements in both autopsy reports and death certificates may not encompass the severity or spectrum of co-morbid conditions in those dying of or with COVID-19. If supported by additional research, this finding may have implications for public health decisions and reporting moving forward through the pandemic.

Lancet ; 396(10247): 320-332, 2020 08 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-981695


BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of an ongoing pandemic, with increasing deaths worldwide. To date, documentation of the histopathological features in fatal cases of the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has been scarce due to sparse autopsy performance and incomplete organ sampling. We aimed to provide a clinicopathological report of severe COVID-19 cases by documenting histopathological changes and evidence of SARS-CoV-2 tissue tropism. METHODS: In this case series, patients with a positive antemortem or post-mortem SARS-CoV-2 result were considered eligible for enrolment. Post-mortem examinations were done on 14 people who died with COVID-19 at the King County Medical Examiner's Office (Seattle, WA, USA) and Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office (Everett, WA, USA) in negative-pressure isolation suites during February and March, 2020. Clinical and laboratory data were reviewed. Tissue examination was done by light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and quantitative RT-PCR. FINDINGS: The median age of our cohort was 73·5 years (range 42-84; IQR 67·5-77·25). All patients had clinically significant comorbidities, the most common being hypertension, chronic kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnoea, and metabolic disease including diabetes and obesity. The major pulmonary finding was diffuse alveolar damage in the acute or organising phases, with five patients showing focal pulmonary microthrombi. Coronavirus-like particles were detected in the respiratory system, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. Lymphocytic myocarditis was observed in one patient with viral RNA detected in the tissue. INTERPRETATION: The primary pathology observed in our cohort was diffuse alveolar damage, with virus located in the pneumocytes and tracheal epithelium. Microthrombi, where observed, were scarce and endotheliitis was not identified. Although other non-pulmonary organs showed susceptibility to infection, their contribution to the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection requires further examination. FUNDING: None.

Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/pathology , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/ultrastructure , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/virology , Autopsy , Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Female , Gastrointestinal Tract/pathology , Gastrointestinal Tract/ultrastructure , Gastrointestinal Tract/virology , Heart/virology , Humans , Kidney/pathology , Kidney/ultrastructure , Kidney/virology , Liver/pathology , Liver/ultrastructure , Liver/virology , Male , Middle Aged , Myocardium/pathology , Myocardium/ultrastructure , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pulmonary Alveoli/pathology , Pulmonary Alveoli/ultrastructure , Respiratory Mucosa/pathology , Respiratory Mucosa/ultrastructure , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , Spleen/pathology , Spleen/ultrastructure , Spleen/virology , Thrombosis/pathology , Trachea/pathology , Trachea/ultrastructure , Trachea/virology , Washington/epidemiology
Am J Forensic Med Pathol ; 41(3): 143-151, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-215983


As a result of the 2019 novel human coronavirus (COVID-19) global spread, medical examiner/coroner offices will inevitably encounter increased numbers of COVID-19-infected decedents at autopsy. While in some cases a history of fever and/or respiratory distress (eg, cough or shortness of breath) may suggest the diagnosis, epidemiologic studies indicate that the majority of individuals infected with COVID-19 develop mild to no symptoms. Those dying with-but not of-COVID-19 may still be infectious, however. While multiple guidelines have been issued regarding autopsy protocol in cases of suspected COVID-19 deaths, there is some variability in the recommendations. Additionally, limited recommendations to date have been issued regarding scene investigative protocol, and there is a paucity of publications characterizing COVID-19 postmortem gross and histologic findings. A case of sudden unexpected death due to COVID-19 is presented as a means of illustrating common autopsy findings, as well as diagnostic and biosafety considerations. We also review and summarize the current COVID-19 literature in an effort to provide practical evidence-based biosafety guidance for medical examiner-coroner offices encountering COVID-19 at autopsy.

Autopsy/standards , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Containment of Biohazards/standards , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/mortality , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. , Female , Humans , Middle Aged , Mortuary Practice/methods , Mortuary Practice/standards , Pandemics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/standards , Triage , United States