This report discusses what the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is doing to transition advanced imaging technologies, such as computed topography (CT) scanning technology, into medical examiner and coroner offices.
Currently, the use of CT scanning technology or computerized x-ray imaging to augment autopsies is common in Europe, Japan, and Australia. In the United States, however, this practice is not as routine for reasons discussed in this report. In some situations, the use of advanced imaging, such as CT, prior to or instead of a traditional autopsy would be advantageous and could offer solutions to some challenges faced by the medicolegal community, such as limited resources or circumstances that make cause of death difficult to diagnose with a traditional (gross anatomy) autopsy. Through research and international partnerships, NIJ is working to inform the forensic community of potential benefits and advance this resource to medical examiners and coroners nationwide. NIJ currently supports cutting-edge research being conducted at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, and it hosted a technology transition workshop. In collaboration with the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), NIJ created and shaped the International Forensic Radiology Research Summit (IFRRS), an international working group aiming to establish a research agenda of high-priority needs concerning advanced imaging technologies for forensic pathology applications. Continued collaborations, information sharing, technology transition, and support of a robust research agenda in advanced imaging for forensic pathology will improve medicolegal death investigations in the United States.
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