Birmingham & Black Country

Sandwell 'digital autopsy' centre plan at crematorium site

Digital autopsy centre
The results of a digital post mortem are available almost immediately

Work has begun to set up a £1.2m centre where post-mortem examinations can be carried out without surgery.

The centre, part of Sandwell Valley Crematorium in the West Midlands, will use 3D scanners to determine cause of death without opening up a body.

The project is a joint venture between Sandwell Council and medical software company iGene.

The building will have to be "extensively altered" before the centre opens in October, iGene said.

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'Digital Autopsy'

  • A multi-slice CT scanner is used to create a 3D reconstruction of the body
  • Pathologists use a large, touch-screen tablet computer to investigate the cause of death
  • The results are available almost immediately
  • Some religious groups have objections to post-mortem tests involving surgery
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Ash Govind from iGene, said: "Digital Autopsy offers a significant humanitarian step forward in establishing the cause of death using software rather than a scalpel."

Sandwell Council said the centre was part of its plan to combine Coroners, Bereavement and Registration services into "a single service to support families".

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said MRI scans were also used to conduct post-mortem tests if people had a strong objection to an invasive examination of a body.

"It is the coroner who will decide if a scanning technique is appropriate (if available), depending on the circumstances of the death.

"Where a scanning technique is used, the family or other next of kin will be required to pay a fee (for this and for any additional tests that the coroner decides are needed).

"The use of a scanning technique may not avoid the need for a full post-mortem examination if the scan does not identify the cause of death."

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