A £2 million state-of-the-art autopsy centre was unveiled in Bradford yesterday.
The aim of Digital Autopsy – which was created by Malaysian firm iGene – is to improve the performance and results of post-mortems, as well as creating a more humanitarian way of conducting them, without the need for dissection.
The centre in Bradford, which is at the public and forensic mortuary on Burnham Avenue, is the second to open in a £50 million network of 18 being created in the UK.
The process, which involves a CT scanner and revolutionary software, ends with a 3D reconstruction of a body on a computer screen for a pathologist to examine. It can take as little as 12 minutes.
Peter Vanezis, a forensic pathologist for 40 years, was introduced to the system in Malaysia in 2010.
He said: “It is an enormous step forward. What we are looking at here is using the latest technology to be able to see in the human body in a way we have not been able to before.
“We can see what is wrong with organs, any damage to bones, the pattern of damage to bones, track wounds, see where blood is, injuries from road traffic accidents, stabbings and shootings.
“We can see the things we see at autopsy without the need to dissect the body – that is the big thing.”
The deputy leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Imran Hussain, who is a big supporter of this type of autopsy, unveiled a plaque at the centre yesterday alongside Malaysian representatives of iGene.
He said: “I think it will be a magnificent facility. I’m very proud that Bradford will be one of the first places in the country to have these facilities. It will be welcome news for all bereaved families.”
Dr Alan Fletcher, the head of medical science at iGene, added: “People in Bradford are going to be part of the revolution of the way this is approached worldwide.
“We are delighted that the Digital Autopsy Facility in Bradford is opening, which will not only complement the current arrangements for coronial investigation, but offer people an unrivalled opportunity moving forwards to avoid an invasive post mortem.
“Digital Autopsy represents a tremendous compassionate step forward in establishing the cause of death. It is non or minimally invasive, therefore avoiding having to dissect the body, and it can facilitate the earlier release of bodies for burial or cremation, which is also an important factor for grieving families.”
The digital autopsy is currently the second option for a post-mortem examination, behind the current “invasive” method. But iGene believes the opposite will be the case in future, with invasive post-mortems only required if the digital autopsy cannot provide all the information needed.
There is still some work to be carried out at the Bradford centre, but it is expected to be up and running by July.