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Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling (MITS)

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Complete diagnostic autopsies, considered the gold standard, are rarely done in low- and middle-income countries to determine a person’s cause of death. Many health centers lack the resources and infrastructure needed to carry out the complex procedure, which can also be considered culturally unacceptable in some contexts. Verbal autopsies, which are traditionally used as an alternative to full autopsies, can be inconclusive and inconsistent.

In 2013, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) developed Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling, or MITS. The relatively simple technique can provide additional information to determine a more accurate and specific cause of death than would otherwise be available.

The MITS technique is carried out by trained pathologists and technicians who insert fine needles into the body, collecting small amounts of tissue and fluid from key organs such as the lungs, liver, heart, and brain. These samples are then analyzed for key pathogens and infectious diseases, as well as malignant tumors. To date, the MITS procedure has been validated through observational studies across all age groups including perinatal, neonatal, childhood and adult deaths.

With more accurate data on mortality causes, governments and health institutions can better plan and prioritize their efforts—ultimately saving lives around the world. The MITS Surveillance Alliance aims to scale up the use of MITS globally. We facilitate the use of MITS by interested institutions and researchers and help grow the network of partners using pathology-based surveillance in various populations, geographies, and contexts.

Interested in learning more about MITS?  Visit our Key Resources page

Interested in becoming a member of the MITS Surveillance Alliance?  Learn more