A quarter century of decline of autopsies in the Netherlands

  • Bartholomeus G. H. LattenEmail author
  • Lucy I. H. Overbeek
  • Bela Kubat
  • Axel zur Hausen
  • Leo J. Schouten



Autopsy rates have been declining worldwide. The present study reports the outcome of a retrospective analysis of all non-forensic autopsies in the Netherlands over a course of 25 years, and compares these with the most recent Dutch study.


Retrospectively, 25 years of data on clinical autopsies from the Nationwide Network and Registry of Histo- and Cytopathology in the Netherlands (PALGA) was paired with the mortality registry (Statistics Netherlands).


The crude prevalence of autopsies declined from 7.07% in 1991 to 2.73% in 2015. After adjusting for age at death, there was no difference in autopsy rate between males and females. An increasing age significantly decreased the autopsy rate.


In the Netherlands, clinical autopsies have been declining over the last quarter century. Age at death, but not sex, was associated with the autopsy rate. These different results stress the importance of correct collection and analysis methods of data.


Autopsy rate Quality control Autopsy 


Supplementary material

10654_2019_572_MOESM1_ESM.docx (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PathologyMaastricht University Medical CentreMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Donders Center of Medical NeurosciencesRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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