Therapath Neuropathology

Examination of Autopsy Brain and Spinal Cord Specimens

Therapath provides expert diagnostic services for the examination of brain and spinal cord tissues removed at autopsy at outside institutions.

The examination is performed for the purpose of documenting the presence or absence of various disorders of the central nervous system. Examples of disorders that are commonly confirmed or diagnosed at autopsy include neurodegenerative diseases, cerebrovascular disorders, infectious disease, neoplasia, metabolic disorders, demyelinating disease, developmental malformations, and trauma.

Specimen Collection

Removal of brain and spinal cord tissues are performed at an outside facility. Therapath does not provide tissue removal or procurement services. Tissues are fixed in formalin at the outside facility for at least 1 to 2 weeks. Therapath accepts specimens Monday through Saturday.


  • Prion disorders (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease): Cases of suspected of or suspicious for prion disease should be referred to the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center who will provide services free of charge.
  • Medicolegal cases: Therapath is presently not interested in participating in tissue examinations for the purposes of litigation.

Specimen Transport

Specimens are shipped to Therapath along with relevant clinical information and a completed requisition form.

Specimen collection kits are available upon request. Collection kits include:

  • Specimen container (1.25 gallon plastic container with lid)
  • Large plastic bag with tie cord
  • Foam insulating container and shipping box
  • Pre-paid shipping label and requisition form

Order collection kits

  1. After appropriate fixation, please package the brain by removing the entire sample from the formalin solution.
  2. Wet cloth, tissues and/or gauze with formalin and wrap the brain sample.
  3. Place the specimen in the provided plastic container and close tightly with the lid. Affix a sturdy label to the exterior of the bucket.  The label should contain two identifiers for the patient, such as patient name and date of birth.
  4. Place the container in provided large plastic bag, remove excess air and seal with the tie cord. Place the bagged container in the Styrofoam container. Enclose the container in the cardboard shipping box and seal the box.
  5. Call client services at 800.681.4338 to schedule a pickup.
    • Call early to allow sufficient time to complete the pickup in advance of your closing. Drivers commonly need a three-hour pickup window.

Please contact our client services team if you have questions about submitting samples.