Volume 48, Issue 2 (March 2003)
Virtopsy, a New Imaging Horizon in Forensic Pathology: Virtual Autopsy by Postmortem Multislice Computed Tomography (MSCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—a Feasibility Study
Using postmortem multislice computed tomography (MSCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 40 forensic cases were examined and findings were verified by subsequent autopsy. Results were classified as follows: (I) cause of death, (II) relevant traumatological and pathological findings, (III) vital reactions, (IV) reconstruction of injuries, (V) visualization. In these 40 forensic cases, 47 partly combined causes of death were diagnosed at autopsy, 26 (55%) causes of death were found independently using only radiological image data. Radiology was superior to autopsy in revealing certain cases of cranial, skeletal, or tissue trauma. Some forensic vital reactions were diagnosed equally well or better using MSCT/MRI. Radiological imaging techniques are particularly beneficial for reconstruction and visualization of forensic cases, including the opportunity to use the data for expert witness reports, teaching, quality control, and telemedical consultation. These preliminary results, based on the concept of “virtopsy,” are promising enough to introduce and evaluate these radiological techniques in forensic medicine.