Bioethical Aspects of Postmortem Imaging

  • Luciano SestaEmail author


After a general overview of death in current medical-cultural context, this chapter examines the main moral aspects of postmortem imaging (PI). In the current debate the stressed ethical issues are fundamentally the following: (1) the noninvasive character of postmortem imaging that very likely makes the procedure less objectionable to relatives of the deceased; (2) the reliability of the methods that ought to be as effective as traditional autopsy, both when PI precedes and completes or substitutes traditional autopsy; and (3) the cost-benefit analysis, in individual and social terms. The chapter emphasizes the common prerequisite of these ethical aspects, that is, the corpse’s dignity and, consequently, the duty to find the procedure that could ensure in a better way such dignity. Furthermore, another ethical issue concerns the relationship between physicians and the relatives in front of the tragic event of death itself. Finally, the chapter deals with the case of pediatric postmortem examination as the paradigmatic example of all ethical issues about PI.


Death Postmortem imaging Noninvasive diagnosis Autopsy Corpse’s dignity Justice Truth Pity 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Health Promotion, Maternal and Child Care “G.D’Alessandro”University of PalermoPalermoItaly

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