Birmingham City Council has invested on a trial basis in its own digital autopsy service to support the Coroner’s Office.
It has come to a 12-month deal with iGene, which carries out computed tomography post mortems (CTPMs) on a specialised scanner at its Sandwell facility.
The council said this will reduce the cost from over £600 per scan to just £238, which will make it more affordable.
CTPMs make it possible to run non-invasive scans of as part of autopsies, and can support with cases involving trauma such as suicides or road traffic accidents.
The process involves running the body through a CT scanner, then processing the resulting data to create a detailed 3D reconstruction of the body. Specially trained radiologists and pathologists can then examine it for clues on the cause of death.
Transforming bereavement services
Councillor Sharon Thompson, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods said: “This agreement is just one of the steps being made to transform our approach to bereavement services.
“Not only will the CTPM scanner provide a vital extra tool to the Coroner’s office but; we’ve had many requests from bereaved families who would rather see this option used instead of an invasive post mortem being carried out.
“When a family is faced with these decisions, it’s a stressful and hugely emotional time. I’m pleased to say that members of the public will now be able to put requests to our coroner for the use of CTPM at a much more realistic and affordable cost.”
Malaysian based iGene has previously arranged a deal with Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust to make the technology available at Royal Preston Hospital.
It made the point that some deaths are not suitable for digital autopsy and require the traditional post mortems.
Image from iGene