Forensic Pathology

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Virtopsy; Advancements in Forensic Imaging
Seth Dominique
Jackson Community College

Virtual autopsy is a rapidly advancing field in medical imaging. It can provide many improvements in the way we examine the deceased. Eventually it might completely take the place of tradional autopsies. It will change the fields of radiology and pathology forever.

Advancements in Forensic Imaging
Virtual autopsy is not something you would think of in the realm of medical imaging. The majority of images in the past have been done on the living, but it is just that “the past.” The people of Virtopsy are working hard to ensure that. Their system of forensic imaging is taking the traditional autopsy and relegating it to a secondary option. Virtopsy is based in Bern, Switzerland. Dr. Michael Thali heads the project. The concept behind all of this is simple; allow a machine to do the work that a person has been doing for years. The execution of this Idea is where it gets a little complicated. It uses multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and a three-dimensional surface scanner. The MSCT images are stacked to create a 3-D view of the body. MRI is used where it is best on the soft tissues of the body. Surface scanning allows the 3-D image created by the CT to have a skin. Using all of these technologies together makes for an impressive and accurate view of the human body. Forensic imaging is not a new tool. It has been in use in one form or another for as long as there has been diagnostic imaging. It is only recently with the advent of three-dimensional imaging that a truly useful tool could be applied. “In the old days, we had no idea what plane a bullet was laying in without taking a series of X-rays,” said Craig Mallak M.D. an Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) medical examiner. “Now we run the body through a CT scanner and we know exactly where to look for the projectile.” One of the main advantages to doing a virtual...
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