Published: Mar 3, 2011
Non-Surgical Scanning Autopsies Developed
by Staff

British scientists say a newly developed, non-surgical autopsy technique could remove the need to open up the body to determine a cause of death.

The new technique, developed at the University of Leicester, involves a scanner and a small incision in the neck. So far, it has proven to be 80 percent accurate in determining the cause of death, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Conventional post-mortem examinations require cutting open the body so the vital organs can be inspected, a process that can be distressing for the family and is opposed by some groups on religious grounds.

The Leicester researchers search externally for trauma, fractures and cancers throughout the body using a Computed Tomography or CT scanner.

However, to fully investigate the heart, a small incision is made in the neck so a catheter can be fed toward the coronary arteries, where air and then a white dye are injected. The CT scanner is then used again to look for detailed evidence of heart disease.

"This is a very, very, different approach to autopsy," Dr. Sarah Saunders, who lead the research, said.

Further tests will be conducted to fully establish its effectiveness, she said.

"The first thing we need is a significant evidence base to convince our pathology colleagues and coroners that CT autopsy can provide exactly the same information as autopsy can and that we are able to show people 'look, this technique really does work,'" she said. (c) UPI

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