Thinking about an autopsy isn’t something most of us do on a regular basis, but for Guy Rutty and his team at the University of Leicester, finding a better way to analyze the recently deceased has led to a new, non-invasive breakthrough.
Some of the biggest challenges faced by doctors who perform autopsies involve the fact that simple body scans are often not enough to determine cause of death and once they bring out their scalpels to get to the bottom of a post-mortem exam, many families will become extremely uncomfortable or rescind permission based on ethical or religious grounds.
This has left the world of analyzed death in a state of paralysis – unable to determine the cause of death in many cardiac cases without cutting, but often being denied this ability. Now, thanks to work performed by the Leicester team, the field of autopsy may be changing with the development of a new CT scanning technique that lets the cause of death be identified in up to 80% of cases without the need for a full, chest-bursting cavity exam.
This new technique is performed by making a small incision in the neck and injecting two types of contrast material. The technique, known as 'minimally invasive targeted coronary angiography” allows a full body CT scan to then be used in order to highlight the heart blood vessels of the recently deceased. The team’s new catheterisation system along with the use of multiple contrast types allows for a far less expensive, less invasive process that many families will find more sensitive to their grief.
The Leicester study has now completed 24 autopsies with its new method and has plans for 200 more in the coming year to gather more data for their new death determination doctrine.