U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Charred Body: Virtual Autopsy with Muti-slice Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 47 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2002 Pages: 1326-1331
Michael J. Thali M.D.; Kathrin Yen M.D.; Thomas Plattner M.D.; Wolf Schweitzer M.D.; Peter Vock M.D.; Christoph Ozdoba M.D.; Richard Dirnhofer M.D.
Michael A. Peat Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2002
6 pages
This study evaluated the potential use of the cross-section techniques, multi-slice Computed Tomography (MSCT) and of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the examination of a charred body and compared the full-body postmortem MSCT and MRI data with forensic autopsy findings.
In the field of forensic pathology, the correct and accurate examination of a burned or charred body is a challenge due to the external surface of the body being severely destroyed and visual identification often impossible. The forensic pathologist must determine whether the injuries sustained occurred postmortem or while the victim was still alive and define the manner of death. To evaluate what can be seen in the case of a charred body, this study examined modern cross-sectional imaging techniques, the multi-slice Computed Tomography (MSCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) providing a full body documentation with spatial resolution in three dimensions. Two examinations (radiological and autopsy) were performed and correlated with classical forensic autopsy to evaluate the potential of MSCT and of MRI in the case of charred body from a vehicle accident. In the case of a charred body of a single motor vehicle/fixed object collision with a post crash fire, the radiological methods of MSCT and MRI made it possible to document the injuries caused by burn. Postmortem imaging is viewed as a good forensic visualization tool with significant potential for the forensic documentation and examination of charred bodies. Figures and references