Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
South Australian Perinatal Autopsy Services

South Australian Perinatal Autopsy Services

The Department provides a fetal / perinatal / paediatric autopsy service for all public and private hospitals in South Australia and adjacent interstate hospitals.

Performing an autopsy provides a number of benefits including:

  • determining or confirming the cause of death
  • confirmation of known abnormalities
  • detection of undiagnosed abnormalities
  • assisting the parental grieving process by the provision of mementoes for the parents
  • an important tool in teaching and research.

A perinatal autopsy may reveal unexpected findings which impact on the counselling for the index pregnancy as well as for the siblings and for future pregnancies.

Parents may have difficulty in appreciating the importance of the autopsy at a time of great personal distress and it is important to reassure them that the body of their child will be handled in a sensitive manner with due respect and entirely in accordance with their wishes.

Options include a full autopsy (including consent for microscopic examination) or a limited autopsy which may include photographs, X-rays, external examination, skin biopsy for cytogenetics and placental examination or a combination.  For further information please discuss with the duty pathologist.  Further information on the autopsy and appropriate maternal investigations are available at the following link:

PDF iconMaternal, Perinatal and Infant Mortality in South Australia 2012 (1.3mb)
         (go to 'Appendix 8: South Australian Protocol for investigation of stillbirths' - page 77)

We aim to provide an interim report within one week and a final report within six weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.

How to access our service

For general details of the service please contact the department.

To discuss a particular case please contact the Duty Pathologist.

For detailed information on the Special Services available, please contact the department on (08) 8161 6315 during normal business hours or via the Switchboard after hours on (08) 8161 7000.

Transfer of bodies can be arranged by contacting the Department, when advice can be given as to the most appropriate method.

Information for families

Information on hospital post-mortem procedures can be found in the booklet "The hospital post-mortem examination process", available from the following SA Health web page:

Link iconPost-mortem examinations

For further information please contact the department on (08) 8161 6315.


General Business: 9.00am - 5.00pm, Monday to Friday

Contact Details

Dr Jill Lipsett BMBS PhD FRCPA
Email: jill.lipsett@sa.gov.au
Tel: (08) 8161 7333

Mailing address

Anatomical Pathology Department
Women's and Children's Hospital
72 King William Road
North Adelaide
South Australia 5006


4th floor, Rogerson Building


Phone (08) 8161 6315
After hours (08) 8161 7000 and ask for duty pathologist or duty mortuary technician
Fax (08) 8161 7022
Email cywhs.mortuary@sa.gov.au

last modified: 19 Dec 2017