The use of CT scanning in forensic autopsy

Radiology Review


Postmortem computed tomography (CT) is being used more frequently in forensic medicine. This review discusses 100 deceased individuals who underwent CT scanning, as well as a standard autopsy. The CT scan was performed and interpreted by a forensic medicine specialist. In 11 cases, important findings discovered during the CT scan were not found at autopsy, and in 58 cases, important findings revealed at autopsy were not uncovered during the CT-scan. The cause of death could be established by the CT scan and external examination in 27%; by CT scan, external examination, and forensic chemistry in 32%; and by autopsy in 95% of the cases. CT scanning was most useful in cases of traumatic death. CT is rarely a substitute for autopsy, but may contribute important new information in cases such as identifications (particularly following mass disasters), battered children, gunshot wounds, traffic accidents, and air embolisms. CT provides documentation in digital form, which is easily stored and permits review by others. CT also provides pictures that may be more suitable for presentation in court than autopsy photos. CT scanning also would be helpful during a medicolegal external examination (inquest) in the process of selecting cases for autopsy.

Key Words

Forensic radiology forensic science autopsy computed tomography CT scanning imaging postmortem imagining 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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