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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

PLOS Collection on Minimally Invasive Autopsies in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

PLOS Medicine introduces the Minimally Invasive Autopsy Collection

High quality data on the cause of death are important to help prioritize health policies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where mortality burden is high, information is poor, and most deaths are preventable. Current methods to determine cause of death include verbal autopsy, clinical records, and traditional autopsies, but these methods may be inaccurate or poorly accepted. In most LMICs, traditional autopsies (the gold standard for determining cause of death), are not feasible given the resources and technology required.

Minimally invasive autopsy (MIA) is a recently developed post-mortem tool consisting in the histological and microbiological analysis of body samples collected with biopsy needles. In contrast to traditional autopsies, MIA is less invasive and therefore potentially more acceptable to families of the deceased. While many available MIA protocols involve high-tech imaging procedures not available in LMICs, more simplified tools could provide reliable information on the cause of death in low-income settings.

PLOS is proud to announce a new collection published this week, entitled “Minimally invasive autopsy for cause of death determination in high burden settings“. The collection includes a ongoing series of articles published in PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE, primarily reporting findings from the Cause of death using Minimally Invasive Autopsies (CaDMIA) project. CaDMIA is an international effort, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, designed to assess whether a simplified MIA tool can be used to accurately determine cause of death when compared to the gold standard complete diagnostic autopsy (CDA) in two high burden settings, Mozambique and Brazil.  The project also seeks to assess the feasibility and acceptability of using MIA approaches in different cultural, religious and geographical backgrounds in five countries, including Mozambique, Kenya, Gabon, Mali and Pakistan.

While some of the research from this project will be published over the coming year or two, findings from initial research articles included in the collection suggest that MIA is a useful tool for determining cause of death in adults, children, and in newborns and stillborn babies in Mozambique. Importantly, the acceptability and feasibility of the approach was found to be high in five diverse settings.


Featured image credit: ISGlobal (CC-BY)

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