Perinatal autopsies present forensic pathologists with a variety of challenges, not the least of which involves the removal and examination of very small and sometimes fragile organs. Removal of the immature brain can be particularly troublesome. Even if great care is taken during brain removal, one is often left with no more than a semifluid amorphous mass of softened tissue by the time the brain is ready to be fixed in formalin.
We describe a method of perinatal brain removal which helps to preserve brain shape and integrity. By removing the brain while the head (and body) is totally immersed in water, we find that the brain is easier to remove and less apt to destruction. Subsequent fixation in formalin results in well-preserved, intact specimens, allowing for optimal examination and sectioning.