Forensic radiology: The role of cross-sectional imaging in virtual post-mortem examinations

Authors: Joshua Higginbotham-Jones, Anthony Ward


The aim of this review is to assess the benefits and limitations of using Multi Slice Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance as non-invasive post-mortem imaging methods.


The author utilised SciVerse (Science Direct), Scopus, PubMed and Discover to search for relevant articles. The following search terms were used: virtopsy, minimally invasive post-mortem imaging, autopsy, Multi Slice Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance. Articles which discussed the use of non-invasive imaging techniques for post-mortem examinations were included in the review. Any articles published before 2003 were excluded with a few exceptions.


The decline in use of the conventional post-mortem method has led to the need for an alternative method of investigation which increases both sensitivity and specificity, and also is more acceptable to the family of the deceased.


There are numerous factors affecting the usability of these non-invasive post-mortem options including cost and availability. With the price of non-invasive post-mortem examinations often rising above £1000, it is considered to be less economically viable than the conventional method. Therefore, further research into this method and its implementation in hospitals has been delayed.