Non-invasive Imaging Autopsy / Post-Mortem CT

“Reduce number of gross autopsies needed” (ref: 1)

“Helpful in offices without enough pathology staff” (ref: 2)

“Precedent use in U.S. courts” (ref. 3)

Can CT Scans Enhance or Replace Medicolegal Autopsies?

“…In the majority of cases included in the study, the researchers said, “PMCT, when paired with a thorough external examination, could supplant autopsy and would be of particular value in cases of family, religious, or cultural objections (to autopsy)…” (ref: 4)

Using Advanced Imaging Technologies to Enhance Autopsy Practices

Meeting the Needs of the Community

…”Currently, the nation has a shortage of board-certified forensic pathologists…There is a tremendous need to develop and implement advanced methods that could not only enhance autopsies diagnostically but also help combat this shortfall and reduce workloads…

...Imaging technology, such as CT, could help pathologists evaluate these cases more quickly without needing to complete a time-consuming gross autopsy. A CT radiograph might offer the pathologist a clear and apparent cause of death without conducting a full autopsy. Another significant advantage to using imaging technology is that the pathologist never loses the ability to delve further if a case requires additional investigation — the use of imaging does not impede the option of going back to a traditional autopsy to supplement findings…” (ref: 5)

                 Advantages of Non-invasive Imaging Autopsy / PMCT:

-          Burned bodies                                        - Blood detection

-          Drowned victims                                    - Gas or air detection

-          Religious objections                              - Ischemic heart disease (IHD)

-          Objection to invasive aspect                - Trauma cases

-          Mass casualty                                         - Infant deaths

-          And more…



1.  Postmortem Imaging: The Next Radiology Subspecialty? – by Deborah Adams Kaplan

2. NIJ Advocates for CT Scans to Assist Forensic Pathologists – by Seth Augenstein

3. Ali, Z., Daly, B., & Fowler, D. R. (2015). The First Use of Postmortem 3D Computed Tomography Images as Evidence in U.S. Criminal Courts: A Report of Four cases. Academic Forensic Pathology, 5(4), 650-661.

4. National Institute of Justice, “Can CT Scans Enhance or Replace Medicolegal Autopsies?, December 5, 2016,   

5.  Using Advanced Imaging Technologies to Enhance Autopsy Practices – by Danielle Weiss, Danielle McLeod-Henning, and Heather Waltke