Uni of Leicester announces world first forensic lab technique

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

A team of forensic pathologists are believed to be the world's
first to use a new radiological laboratory approach for mass
fatality investigations that could bring to the end current lab
methods that are slow and limited in their applicability.

Traditionally 2 types of radiology are used in mass fatality and temporary mortuary investigations. These are fluoroscopy and plain x-ray. These techniques are time consuming and yield limited information.

Additionally the techniques pose a health and safety hazard to those working in the environment due to the use of radiological equipment outside their normal working area. They are also not undertaken at the scene of the incident.

A team of researchers led by Guy Rutty of the University of Leicester​ Forensic Pathology Unit used a mobile MSCT scanner at the mortuary for the examination of the victims of a vehicle mass fatality incident.

This instrument provided improved information in 2 dimensional plain film (AP and lateral) and 3 dimensional multi-slice examination with on-site soft tissue and bony reconstruction.

The system proved faster then traditional temporary mortuary radiology yielding greater information related to identification, health and safety, autopsy planning and cause of death.

"The demonstration of the ability to utilise mobile MSCT technology under these circumstances may result in a complete rethinking of the type of radiology to be used in temporary mortuaries or mass fatalities scenes,"​ said Rutty.

"The work presently being undertaken by my research team within the Forensic Pathology Unit at the University of Leicester in this area is hoped to develop new approaches to mass fatality radiological investigation which may be adopted throughout the world,"​ he added.

Fluoroscopy is a technique for obtaining "live" X-ray images of a living patient. The Radiologist uses a switch to control an X-Ray beam that is transmitted through the patient.

The X-rays then strike a fluorescent plate that is coupled to an "image intensifier" that is (in turn) coupled to a television camera. The Radiologist can then watch the images "live" on a TV monitor. Fluoroscopy is often used to observe the digestive tract (Upper GI series - Barium Swallow, Lower GI series - Barium Enema or "BE").

Flouroscopy is also used during many diagnostic and therapeutic Radiologic procedures, to observe the action of instruments being used either to diagnose or to treat the patient.

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