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Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) Test Directory

Fetal Autopsy

Fetal autopsy services are available to parents at the Alberta Children's Hospital site. 

Consent for Autopsy

Consent for Autopsy CHR#160012
CHR Notice of Death and Release of Body CHR# 100298 (for fetuses 20 weeks gestation or more)

The Consent for Autopsy must be completed by the requesting physician (designate). Consent of the authorized representative (usually a parent) must be obtained by the requesting physician (designate) and witnessed by a third party adult who can verify the identity of the person signing the form.

Vital Statistics documentation is required in the following cases:

For stillbirth 20 weeks gestation or older:

Medical Certificate of Stillbirth DVS9 / Reg 3219
Registration of Stillbirth DVS8 / Reg 3218
Physicians Notice of Live Birth or StillBirth (PNOB) DVS# /HS001-130
Congenital Anomalies (if required) HS020-112

For live birth (any gestational age):

Medical Certificate of Death DVS6 /Reg3122
Registration of Death DVS5 /Reg3260
Congenital Anomalies (if required) HS020-112

Forms must be completed, signed by the appropriate person(s) and sent with the fetus.

Identification of the Fetus

An identification label must be on the outside of the container or the body if it is wrapped in a blanket or shroud.

The label must have the following information from the mother or fetus:

  • First and last name
  • One of the following:
    • Date of Birth
    • Alberta Health or Personal Health Number
    • Hospital Patient Identification Number (where applicable)

Autopsy Handling and Transport

When an autopsy is requested:

  • The Unit sends the fetus and placenta to the morgue together (no fixative on the fetus or placenta).
    • The placenta should always accompany the fetus and be appropriately labeled with the mothers information and "placenta" or "fetus".
  • The Unit is responsible to notify Admitting/Patient Placement by sending them the required forms and the medical chart.
  • Admitting/Patient Placement makes arrangements to transport the fetus and placenta to the Alberta Children's Hospital.
  • The fetus and placenta should be sent to the Alberta Children's Hospital as soon as possible but may be kept in the fridge (4oC) for a MAXIMUM of 3 days (on a weekend).
  • Fetuses may be transported for autopsy on weekends but the autopsy may not be performed until the next working day.

If the death occurs on a weekend and parents request immediate release of the body, contact the pathologist on call at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

If parents are not using a funeral home they may make arrangements through the CHR Maternity Social Workers for burial, or cremation or picking up the fetus if they are not using a funeral home.

For information regarding CHR programs go to:

Release of the Fetus

After an Autopsy/Examination:

The body can be released directly to a funeral home or an authorized representative upon consent from the pathologist and in compliance with CLS guidelines. The person authorized to pick-up the body must  show appropriate identification and sign for the acceptance of the body.