Cadatheter and the Near Virtual Autopsy.

A cadaver-specific catheter which enables virtual autopsy through imaging techniques.

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Background.

While traditional coroners’ post-mortems are often done as a matter of routine it is increasingly believed within the profession that there is a need to be more selective about which deaths should be investigated by these means. There is also an objection to post-mortems by many on religious and cultural grounds. About 80% of post-mortems are on individuals that have died of coronary disease. As a consequence, there is currently a worldwide effort to explore the use of targeted, contrast enhanced, post-mortem computer tomography (PMCT) and MRI for cadaveric angiography.

Using its expertise in PMCT, the University of Leicester has developed a custom catheter specifically for use in cadavers that delivers contrast with a high degree of precision as required. The University has also refined the methodology and protocol to ensure optimal imaging results.

PMCT is an alternative, or at least a complementary, method to the classic autopsy. During recent research in this area, it has become apparent that to realise the concept of ‘near virtual’ autopsy, PMCT will need to adopt clinical imaging practices. This will include the use of targeted contrast enhanced PMCT. For this purpose, researchers currently use standard catheters developed for alternative uses, but often with less than optimal results. However, with funding from the National Institute of Health Research, the University of Leicester has now developed a cadaver specific catheter for use in PMCT.

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