AIIMS starts COVID-19 research via autopsies
Study aims at finding impact of virus on organs
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhopal, has begun researching on COVID-19 by conducting autopsies on bodies of positive patients to figure out the virus’ impact on organs and correlate autopsy findings with clinicopathological ones and similar studies worldwide.
“This is the first deliberate attempt in the country to study in detail COVID-19positive deaths,” said Arneet Arora, Dean and Head of Department, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, at the institute. As an integrated research intramural project, Microbiology, Pathology and Lab Medicine, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, and Anaesthesiology departments are involved in conducting autopsies on 10 deceased COVID-19 positive patients after approval from the Institution Human Ethics Committee of the AIIMS.
“The consent of the families of the patients is the most important and securing it has been a challenge. We tell them the procedure might help us define treatment better,” said Dr. Arora. The research team approached families of eight of the 12 deceased since July 31, of which just one consented. The first autopsy was conducted on August 16.
The study’s objectives are to report autopsy findings in deaths due to COVID-19, look for pathological changes in different organs of patients, correlate findings with clinicopathological ones, and compare them with similar studies worldwide.
The team would conduct microscopic examination of all organs and microbiological analysis, that is the virus analysis, and examine possible clotting of blood in the body.
In a bid to reduce the possible exposure to infection, only five, rather than the usual 10 specialists are conducting procedures. The fear of infection among the doctors conducting the autopsies looms with aerosol generation during the procedure, the reason why the Indian Council of Medical Research has not recommended it. Therefore, the team is adopting low-aerosol generating methods for the autopsies, such as using the conventional hammerchisel technique instead of the oscillating electric saw to open a skull.
“Our research comes after autopsies in China and Italy, but is more elaborate and comprehensive,” added Dr. Arora.
She said it was unclear whether bodies of COVID-19 patients were more infectious than the living ones.