Knox County Tennessee
Regional Forensic Center

Private or Family Requested Autopsies

Private or family requested autopsies may be obtained for decedents who would not otherwise require an autopsy by statute. Although families may request an autopsy for many reasons, some of the most common circumstances include:

  • To better understand the natural disease or disease process that caused death
  • To provide information about possible inherited or genetic diseases, allowing other family members to seek testing and/or treatment
  • To investigate possible medical treatment complications
  • To assist in civil proceedings regarding the death
  • Suspected or known exposure to toxic chemicals or materials

Requests for private autopsies are reviewed on a case by case basis. Private autopsies may only be requested and ordered by the legal next-of-kin or by another individual with the appropriate legal authority to do so. According to the family’s request, the autopsy examination may include a complete examination of all organ systems or may be limited to a specific organ system or area of concern.

A completed and signed authorization for autopsy, reviewed and approved by a forensic pathologist(s), with full payment must be received prior to the decedent being transported to our facility for examination. The fee for a full autopsy is $7,500.00. A partial autopsy, which focuses on one area, can be performed for $5,100.00. These fees do not include a formal neuropathology evaluation, non-routine ancillary studies, or expert testimony. In addition, families are responsible for arranging transportation of the decedent to and from our facility.

All autopsies are performed by experienced forensic pathologists who are either board certified or board eligible by the American Board of Pathology. Ancillary studies may be performed at the discretion of the forensic pathologist. Requests for specific toxicology testing for substances outside of a standard expanded toxicology panel may be performed and may include an additional fee.

In most circumstances, the autopsy procedure can be completed, and the decedent released to the funeral home for final disposition within 24-48 hours from arrival to our facility. An autopsy will not preclude viewing of the decedent after preparation by a funeral director.

A final autopsy report is typically completed within 6 months; however, it may take longer due to case complexity or case load. Please note, the final autopsy report will not make comment on the quality of care from other medical professionals or facilities.

Our private autopsy permit can be accessed here. Please return the completed form by fax to 865-215-8011 or email to