Schiavo autopsy report

Maybe a Doper doctor can answer this general question regarding Schiavo’s autopsy results.

According to this, there were no signs of strangulation or other trauma prior to her collapse, and it didn’t appear that she was given drugs or harmful substances.

My question is, after 14 years, what sort of signs would there be? Surely, even in a vegetative state, the body still has some recuperative powers left, and certain toxins would have been processed out.

I’m not saying he did or didn’t do anything, nor am I implying anything. I’m just wondering what the doctors would have been able to see after 14 years that would have caused them to say “You know, I think she was slipped a Mickey in 1990…”


The autopsy says what it says, there is no sign of trauma. That is not the same as saying there was no trauma which would probably be an overreaching conclusion. It may be possible that some kinds of trauma might have left scar tissue or other long term evidence but that isn’t addressed int this report.

IANAD but I would guess that part of the autopsy report would include going over Terri’s medical records spanning the whole 14 years…certainly the ones immediately after she collapsed. The doctors would look at those closely in conjunction with the actual autopsy and compile a final report.

Yep…they did review her medical records and other evidence…

Well, for instance, if Terri Shiavo had suffered a heart attack, there would have been some sort of scar tissue present on her heart. The autopsy mentioned that there was no sign of that. Also, during strangulation, a small bone known as the hyoid (sp?) - which is connected to the larynx and no other bones - is usually broken. If the autopsy found an intact hyoid with no sign of previous fracture, that makes the likelihood of Terri Shiavo having been strangled much lower. It doesn’t rule it out, of course, because the absence of proof is not the proof of absence.

Also, by “heart attack,” they probably specifically meant “myocardial infarction.” That’s different from “cardiac arrest caused by possible chemical imbalance.” In common parlance, “heart attack” is used for a broad number of conditions, not specifically MIs.