Each cause of death is different, and it's up to the coroners to discover what happened and why. Although sometimes, the reason can be a bit wilder than anything they could've ever guessed. Just ask these people.
People who perform autopsies on Reddit share their strangest finds. Content has been edited for clarity.
“Doubt His Friends Believed His Story”
“I used to take X-rays in the morgue for suspicious deaths, murders, and things of that nature.”
One time we were doing an abdomen X-ray on a guy that was found in a golf course pond. After rolling him on his side to gather the plate, a live frog wriggled out of his butt.
The morgue tech caught him and put him into a specimen jar. He took some debris from the bag and put it in the jar and poked holes in the lid.
One of my coworkers googled the type of frog and confirmed that he was native to the area. He then biked him back and released him into his pond at the end of the day.
I doubt any of his frog friends believed his story.”
Never A Boring Day On The Job
“I worked in a cadaver lab. People would donate their bodies to science, and we would essentially ‘cut them up’ into different cuts depending on what hospitals, medical schools, or researchers wanted. Most of the tissue went for surgical practice. For example, a torso would be sent out for spinal surgery practice, or a leg for knee replacement practice.
Once we had a donor who died during surgery. We found a very large pair of scissors inside him.
We also had lots of donors with evidence of cancer (like tumors all over their lungs) with no medical history of cancer.
We found a lot of abnormal or enlarged organs. We once removed a 50 pound liver from a guy, and also we found horseshoe kidneys (two kidneys fused together) in a person.”
“It Was Pretty Shocking”
“We once had a homeless dude who OD’d on opiates (this comes in a LOT). During the external exam, we removed his pants and they were just full of bacon. Like, at least 40 packs of bacon. Turns out he had shoplifted a ton of it then shot up in some run-down house and died with it all in his pants. It was pretty shocking.
We also had a guy who took a bullet to the back of his head, execution style. After the x-rays determined the bullet was not in his head anymore, we couldn’t find the exit wound anywhere. Once we took out the brain, we discovered it exited perfectly out of one of his nostrils, leaving no trace of an external exit wound.”
They Had No Idea That Was Possible
“One of the cadavers we learned from in medical school had his sciatic nerve somehow passing through the middle of his piriformis muscle. It wasn’t fused to the side of the muscle via scarring, it ran right through the middle of the muscle. His medical history was unknown, but we expected that sciatic nerve pain was probably on the list.
I think of him when a patient doesn’t respond to typical treatments for things. Sometimes people are built differently than everyone else and you have to think outside the box to figure out what’s going on.
Later down the road, I figured out this isn’t all that uncommon a phenomenon, which we might have learned at the time. But I definitely do remember looking down at the nerve passing through the middle of the muscle and thinking, What the heck? That was not something I thought was possible before seeing it for myself.
Shout out to everyone who has gifted their bodies to science!
“One Display Caught My Eye”
“My forensic medicine lectures took place in the department’s ‘museum of oddities.’ There are plenty of interesting items on display, but one particularly strange display caught my eye. It was an unlabeled cardboard box with 20ish thin metal bars, 10 centimeters (around four inches) long. One of the pathologists explained that the random pieces of metal were actually spoon handles that were found in a young woman’s stomach.
The remaining portion of the spoons was melted away by stomach acid. The woman was a patient in a psychiatric hospital in the 50s/60s, and evidently had a tendency to swallow spoons, but her unusual diet had nothing to do with her cause of death (can’t exactly remember what it was).”
Interesting What This Drink Did
“One time, there was a body that had orange organs. Literally everything was orange, the blood had a weird orange hue, and the skin was also somewhat orange. We later learned the person drank carrot juice every day with every meal for 30 years, but they only consumed carrot juice for the last five years. However, they died of old age.
Another time, one individual attempted to commit suicide four times with a 21 loaded weapon. Apparently, they missed the heart three times and finally the fourth bullet pierced the heart. According to the report, they suffered for a long time. However, they were still able to disassemble the weapon and lay it out perfectly on the bedside table. So, I guess you could say that we found 3 bullets that didn’t actually kill this individual.”
“He Was A Little Excited”
“I was an EMT back in the day, and we were responding to a car wreck where a new sports car had gone off-road and flipped several times. We had a newbie with us and this was his first trauma call and to say the least, he was a little excited. We told him when we got to the scene, he was to hold the c-spine for us while we worked on the patient.
The driver of the wrecked car was in bad shape; he had been ejected from the vehicle and judging by his crushed skull, was minutes from passing. Nevertheless, our little rookie ran over to the patient and grabbed what was left of the guy’s head, and held the c-spine. On calls like this because of their rural location, the first responding police officer will often call a medical helicopter to respond also, as was the case here.
Within minutes the man had passed, and we told dispatch to call off the helicopter and request a coroner response. Fast-forward to the next day, the ME office calls the station to ask ‘Who is missing a wedding ring?’
They had found a gold band inside the man’s head. Turns out our little rookie was so excited, he neglected to glove up before the call.”
They Did Not Expect That
“We were performing an autopsy for a smaller, more rural neighboring county. We knew ahead of time that the guy had cut off parts of his own member (the head and he had also cut out another region). We assumed we would need to detox him.
Anyway, upon X-ray, we found that he had a broken-off knife blade shoved up his rectum. Broken off as in the handle was missing. The county then relayed finding the bladeless handle on the scene and had been wondering where the blade went.
As a follow-up, his report came back clean. Investigation indicated he was suffering from drinking withdrawal hallucinations. Crazy stuff.”
“They Were Taken Aback”
“I had a decedent who was brought in wearing several sets of everything. The body was wearing about five sets of undergarments, pants shirts, etc. Cops couldn’t figure out why, and unfortunately, were judging them. I looked at the age and last/family name in the papers and also saw that they had a spouse. I asked if they met the spouse and if they had a French accent.
They said that they did. They asked me how I knew and why did I think it mattered.
I said they were old enough to be survivors of WWII. That they were probably scavengers and this person wore several layers of clothes for the purpose of being able to run at any moment.
They were taken aback by the trauma this person had endured for the majority of their life. They went out of their way to help the spouse from there.
It’s sad and interesting to see the effects that the war had on people, and how they were able to endure.”
They Figured Out Why He Did That
“I had a case a couple of years back where an inmate at a correctional facility had expired while in custody. Initially, when I took the report, I didn’t think much of it because the individual had multiple severe co-morbidities. However, after we took custody of the body and began our investigation we noticed that the individual had quite a lot of blood on his clothes and the initial reports we received didn’t mention any trauma.
After we got his clothes off, we noticed that he had a really nasty laceration about four inches long on his abdomen. We opened him up and found a pretty significant amount of fecal matter inside his abdominal cavity. Come to find out this guy had used a razor blade from a broken razor to cut into his abdominal wall multiple times, and was stuffing his own excrement into his abdomen and had died from septic shock.”
“He’s Never Seen Anything Like It”
“Back in the 2000s, like 2001 or 2002 ish, I used to make the run from Phoenix to Prescott almost weekly, usually at the butt-end of the clock, like three or four am. From what I remember from my travels, I-17 is pretty much an empty road between Phoenix and Anthem, except for the prison, and empty road again from Anthem to Hwy 69.
It’s two lanes, goes up a heck of a mountain (people used to overheat and stall out on it all the time before it got re-graded down a bit), and lonesome, but kind of peaceful at that hour. You see maybe, I don’t know, 20, 30 other cars the whole hour and a half drive, usually either passing them or them passing you. There’s also no real service stations, emergency phones, nothing, and in large swathes, cell phone reception was really patchy back then.
Seeing as I made the run once a week I kept a lot of oddball things in my car, a big ole wool blanket, couple gallons of water, a box of flares. Since I was so prepared, maybe once every two or three months I’d stop to help somebody out with a flat tire, overheated radiator, whatever.
One night, I’m coming up on Bumble Bee/ Crown King, which is about 40 minutes from my destination and 10-20 from where I leave I-17 to get on Hwy 69, and there’s an obvious accident side of the road. It looked like a jeep or SUV rear-ended a lumber truck. This accident had to have just happened too, as there’s no flare or triangles out, no one’s out walking around,
So I flip my hazards and brights on and pull off to the side. I kid you not, the dude in the SUV is impaled on like three or four two-by-fours Final Destination style. One’s clean through him and the driver’s seat into the back foot well, and his windshield is spiked up high almost half a foot above the vehicle. He was in shock, but conscious, but there really wasn’t a lot I could do for him so I called 911.
As I was doing so, I headed to the driver of the flatbed. He was out cold with a big ugly gash on the side of his face, steering wheel all mangled and bent to heck, so I assume he hit the steering wheel and is out. Emergency says they can get someone from Arcosanti up in about 20 minutes, so I head back to the SUV. The dude was still awake, crying, and talking nonsense. I just sort of hunker down on my heels and hang out there softly chatting with the guy, trying to keep him calm. I did my best, but there was not a lot I could do for either of them.
After about 10-15 minutes, he stops talking. I couldn’t really see if he was still moving, but I keep chatting at him. EMTs roll up, tell me to get back so I let them in to do their thing. I found out the guy I was chatting with had died, and the other guy was out with a concussion, maybe neck injury. So they backboard him, and off he goes. Cops show up, take my statement of what I saw, which wasn’t much since I got there after the accident had occurred.
EMT comes over and wants to know if I touched the guy or tried to do any first aid, what have you. I tell him no, didn’t see the point since I couldn’t pull a two by four out of someone’s gut by myself in the middle of nowhere.
EMT tells me the dude’s gut was filled with Lego blocks. Like hundreds of loose Legos, all over in the wound, bloody Legos on the floor and seat around him. They don’t know if he swallowed them, or if they were loose in the car and went flying when he got impaled, or what, but the dude says he’s never seen anything like it at a road accident.”
She Somehow Didn’t Feel Them
“Back in the ’90s, I worked for the company that was contracted to move bodies for the coroner. We picked up the body of a lady who had worked as a tailor in her youth. When they did the post-mortem, there were several dressmaking pins and needles under her skin (mainly in her legs). There was also a pin lodged in her lung. The coroner thought she must have inhaled it.
She’d suffered a pulmonary embolism back in the 60s which had forced her to retire. Maybe the pin was the cause of it. How she hadn’t felt the pins or that none of them had been picked up on x-rays or scans she’d had in later life, I don’t know. The cause of death was a stroke.”
“Don’t Know What To Make Of That”
“I was a student, and one day, I agreed to be part of a seven am autopsy, but I was very hungover.
The night before, I played Dungeons and Dragons until approximately three in the morning. While playing with my friends, I got smashed. I woke up sweating, pale hungover. Hours later, I got to the basement of the veteran affairs office and was briefed on the situation. A woman had died in her sleep, the night before. The people present were two women in my class, the cadaver butcher dude, a police officer, and myself. We got in full regalia, wore charcoal masks (that are hard to breathe through, but mostly prevent you from smelling the body) and of course got into the anti-fluid PPE.
Unfortunately for me,, the anti-fluid PPE is not exactly breathable. I was sweating.
So, we are presented with a body. The dead woman died sometime in the night. Her husband brought her in. Our job is to make sure that she wasn’t poisoned or something. What was the cause of death? Now imagine being so hungover you’re breathing heavy standing still. You’re white as a sheet. The main autopsy dude notices. He starts saying that I’m about to pass out, because I look like I’m mortified. Sorry, I’m so freaking hungover I may as well be a vampire under these hot lights.
So, I say I’m fine, he says I’m not. As a corpse dude, naturally he makes me his helper. At this point, he’s trying to make me pass out. I know that, he knows that. He hands me organs, I take them, put them in the bin, and we weigh them. As an aside, it was determined she died of natural causes due to atherosclerosis.
However, for the last 8 years, I’ve been working in an Italian restaurant in the back. And the bins we’re using for the ‘meat’ during this autopsy are the exact same kinds I’ve used for the better part of a decade for chicken. At a certain point, it kind of became routine.
I got out of there without puking, without passing out, but I got the distinct impression I was back at Palermo Villa chopping up meat for the next day’s meal. I don’t know what to make of that.”
Shedding Some Light On The Situation
“I’m a guitar instructor, and one of my students that worked at the hospital Emergency. A patient came in and was asked what was his reason for his medical visit. He said he was having a hard time going to the bathroom he was being very vague.
So they took several x-rays to determine if there was a physical issue. I was shocked because he let me look at a copy of the x-ray. There was a 12- inch florescent light bulb completely up his butt hole and it was dangerously close to puncturing his spleen from the prongs on the end of the bulb.”
“Just All Kinds Of Mixed Up”
“I was an autopsy assistant for a few years. I helped out a couple of pathologists with around 80 autopsies. Here are a few where we found unexpected items, though only one was completely removed from the cause of death:
One man had a broken down vehicle on a bridge in the winter. A semi-trailer jack-knifed, hitting the breaks, and took up the entire bridge as it skidded forward. The man jumped over the bridge to evade the semi. He landed in a river/creek, he quickly died of hypothermia. During the autopsy, it was discovered that he had small cell lung cancer. Maybe had six months to live.
There was a tornado, and we normally wouldn’t do an autopsy on an individual that was obviously killed via the tornado. However, this one gentleman was found dead after a tornado with zero trauma that could be seen on his body. When we opened him up, almost none of his organs were where they were supposed to be. Just all kinds of mixed up. No idea how he had no outward signs of trauma.
This last one is one I’ll never forget. The subject was getting autopsied as was the procedure. The subject had particular wounds that looked to be the cause of death. Upon the performing of the autopsy, it became clear that we were very wrong about the method used to kill the victim. So much so, that the entire scenario of the victims had to be rethought.”
Hope They Left A Good Review
“I work for a trade service that does work for funeral homes. We got a body from the medical services office one day, it was a guy who had died of suicide by hanging. He had a member chastity belt on that no one for the life of them could get off, not us, and apparently not the people that did the autopsy.
After reading about the product on the website, we learned it’s impossible to get off without the key and they were sure as heck right. Dude went to his grave wearing his chastity belt. He also had women’s personal effects with him. Came to the conclusion the guy was an interesting man. One of the most interesting things I’ve seen yet.”
“What They Found Will Forever Haunt Me”
“About ten years ago when I lived in California, my next-door neighbor was a paramedic. He once had the craziest call of his life but he wouldn’t know that until after arriving at the patient’s home. The wife of a 50 something-year-old man had called regarding her husband possibly having a heart attack. A heart attack it was what was, but she didn’t say was that it happened during a love-making session, and that’s not the worse part.
They get to the house and start working on him for a while before they can take him to the hospital. While they were working on him, they found something lodged in his butt. Long story short, he did not survive, and what they found in his butt will forever haunt me.
Somehow the man and his wife had managed to get a snow globe inside of the man’s butt. Yes, that’s right, it was a SNOW GLOBE! It wasn’t until they tried to remove it when the man had his heart attack. The snow globe had suctioned into his butt, making it impossible to remove without cutting it out of him.”
How Did It Get There?
“I work in a pathology lab, and we get all the parts that are removed from a human during surgery. Tumors, moles, appendages, stones (kidney, bladder, gall bladder, and much more).
One day a large, long, cylindrical stone was removed from a man’s member. We have to break the stone down to its chemical components so we can tell what it’s predominantly made from, ie calcium. So we put this stone in solution, and as it dissolved we realized something was in the center. It was a Bic pen cap!
There’s no way it came from above, and we have no idea how the heck it could have gotten there.”
“Surprise Of Our Lives”
“One time we had an autopsy on a guy who had died abroad whilst on holiday. He’d already had an autopsy in his country of death. He needed another autopsy in his home country before his death could be registered, so that was our job. He had been embalmed and repatriated to us.
Obviously, by the time we received his body, his brain had already been removed and dissected, and the skull sutured closed. My colleague reopened the skull, as we weren’t sure of autopsy procedures in the country of death. it was there we had the surprise of our lives.
The skull cavity was stuffed with underpants.
The weirdest bit of this finding was that the body arrived with a bag of the guy’s belongings – including his own underpants.”
Did Not Expect That
“I’m a student nurse, and occasionally have my clinicals at the local hospital. During my third semester I took care of a man who had cardiovascular issues. Unfortunately late in my shift, he passed away. I was told to help the other personnel prepare the man’s body for the morgue, which I did.
As we got down to the hospital’s morgue, the body starts moving within the bag and a really loud buzz sounded out. Upon hearing it, I nearly peed myself. Turns out he had a pacemaker which will sometimes go off after the patient is dead. I’ll never forget that.”