Csi: Crime Scene Investigation star Elisabeth Harnois struggled to contain her emotions during a real-life autopsy as she watched medics dissect a child.

The actress joined the hit U.S. show in 2011 as investigator Morgan Brody, and she was so determined to fit in with her co-stars she agreed to undergo the programme's traditional preparation of observing real post-mortem exams.

Harnois spent hours preparing mentally for the harrowing experience but her confidence was almost shattered the moment she walked into the coroner's lab, as one of the first corpses she was required to view was a young child.

She tells British magazine Seven Days, "I found out from some of the other actors that when they first started shooting the show, they were given the option to witness autopsies. I called up the show and said, 'I really want to do this'. I wanted to see things from the perspective of a real Csi, who wouldn't be as reactionary to the graphic sights they have to deal with as I would be.

"I tried not to think about it at all going into it... I tried not to imagine what I would see because I wanted to go in without freaking myself out with preconceived notions... The only thing I asked of the universe before I got to the coroner's office was, 'Please don't let me see any children'. Sure enough, one of the first things I saw was an infant. I'm watching them trying to figure out how this baby passed away. They thought maybe abuse was involved, but it wasn't, it was natural causes."