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Cardiac Angiography Studied for Autopsies

July 19, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Cardiac Imaging
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New research in England aims to use cardiac angiography to take us a step closer to using the virtual autopsy as the postmortem standard.

The question of whether an invasive autopsy should be performed sometimes arrays the government or the medical community, which wants to know details about the cause of death, against members of the deceased’s family, who object on religious grounds or simply want their loved one to rest in peace. As a press release from the University of Leicester in England puts it, many families find the idea of an invasive autopsy to be “unpleasant.”

A research team from the university’s East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit has begun an 18-month study into postmortem use of cardiac angiography. The idea is to develop a cost-effective system for diagnosing coronary heart disease from CT scans that is as reliable as the traditional invasive autopsy. The East Midlands group is collaborating with researchers from the Imaging Department at the University Hospitals of Leicester.

Guy N. Rutty, MBBS, professor at the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, is head of the project. He has long advocated the use of CT scans to supplement or replace traditional autopsies, which involve cutting open the body.

“The outcome of this research has the potential to affect every family in the future and is a significant contribution to the developing practice of using CT scans instead of autopsies,” Dr. Rutty said. “We are investigating a realistic alternative to the autopsy, and we are confident we can produce a reliable and cost-effective system which can be used in the future as an alternative to the invasive autopsy.”

If he’s right, that opens a potential new area of employment for radiologists. And they wouldn’t have to worry about radiation dosages.

Related seminar: Cardiac Imaging (new release)

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