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Facilitating Multidisciplinary Forensic Research Using A Unique Computed Tomography Dataset

NCJ Number
Date Published
13 pages

Since research related to death investigations has been limited due to the lack of a large, diverse, high-quality decedent image dataset, the current project created the first such database with postmortem computed tomography (CT) scans.


At completion, the project had created a database and website with CT scans of 15,242 individuals represented, documented with up to 69 metadata variables. This database and website is named the New Mexico Decedent Image Database (NMDID) and is available at nmdid.unm.edu. This report first describes the research design, methods, and analytical and data analysis techniques used in developing NMDID. The Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) is a centralized medical examiner’s office for all of New Mexico. With a few exceptions, any individual who dies in the state in a sudden, violent, untimely, or unexpected manner and any person who is found dead and the cause is unknown is routed to the OMI, where an autopsy may be performed. The Center for Forensic Imaging (CFI) was built by the state at the OMI. It contains a CT scanner for the facility. Between 2010 and 2017, 85 percent of decedents who underwent an autopsy received a high resolution, full-body CT scan. This produced just over 15,000 whole body 3D CT images. Requirements for researchers to access metadata and the search engine are outlined in this report. In the first 7 months that NMDID was available, it was accessed by 275 researchers from 37 countries. Approved requests related to forensic anthropology, forensic pathology, forensic radiology, automobile safety, anatomy education, biomechanics, respiratory illness, nephrology, and many other fields. In addition to the research and education benefits of NMDID, its limitations are also outlined. Dissemination activities and publications are listed.

Date Published: January 1, 2021