Investigation of dead bodies was introduced by knowledge seekers, giving rise to the idiom “the dead teach the living”. Evidence of forensic dissections date back to the thirteenth century at University of Bologna by William of Saliceto. This is mentioned in his book “Surgery”, describing a case he had examined in 1275. In the sixteenth century, numerous legal codes were developed in Europe e.g. Bamberg code in 1507, Caroline Code in 1532 and Theserian code in 1769. Hospital or clinical autopsy further developed the study of pathogenesis of disease and cellular pathology, introduced by Carl von Rokitansky and Rudolf Virchow respectively.
Modern judicial systems have given shape to the current scenario of autopsy examinations in most countries, to detect and investigate unnatural and sudden deaths, particularly to assist in differentiating the manner of death.
In Nepal, autopsy is widely believed to have been initiated in Bir Hospital, but no evidence on its origins have been traced. Bir Hospital continued to be the center for death investigation, until 2057 B.S. when it was shifted to Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University. Besides Institute of Medicine, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences is the only other medical college performing autopsy routinely.
The majority of autopsies carried out in Nepal are performed by fresh medical graduates, following a short training on medico-legal investigation of death. This training is aimed at assisting these doctors in developing the knowledge require to competently render these services as required of them.