I was lucky enough to attend a clinical guest presentation recently on "Bladeless Autopsy Technology and its Clinical Applications". I had never heard of them prior to the lecture. The presenter works mainly as a consultant forensic pathologist for various law enforcement agencies and government bodies. I unfortunately had to leave part way through proceedings and I have not been able to find much about it elsewhere. Basically the technique as he described it uses a high resolution helical CT scanner. The subject's entire body can be visualised much more clearly due to the higher doses of radiation that can be used, compared to the lower doses used on living subjects. Software, specifically written for this use, then takes the images and melds them into a 3D graphic representation. The presenter said IIRC about 160,000 images on average and about 5 gig of data for one full body high resolution bladeless autopsy. The high quality and detail of the scanning process allows for the subject to remain in bodybag if needed with no loss of imaging clarity. The time factor was also markedly different. One example he used was a cranial scan that took 30 mins and correctly sited and gave cause of death. If it had been done traditionally it would have been at least 24 hrs with a very invasive cranial autopsy giving the same answer. The presenter said it has mainly been trialled by forensic pathologists in Europe as an experiment to see a comparison between traditional autopsy and non-invasive autopsy. One of the more interesting claims made was that after scanning the subject, if need be, the body could be buried or cremated and any criminal investigations of entry/exit wounds, tissue and organ damage etc could be conducted years or decades down the track without any degradation of the evidence and without having to exhume remains. This was most interesting particularly where there may be little solid evidence of who committed the crime at the time the body is found/scanned but there is ample evidence of how the subject was killed. The presenter then went on to show several case studies where suspects were either charged and convicted or cleared of criminal charges because the bladeless autopsy was actually more clear and gave a better indication of what occurred to the subject than the traditional autopsy that had been performed originally. I had to leave the lecture at this point so missed the rest of what was a very fascinating topic. Pondering on it further I can see some good applications in military and civilian circumstances. It is far easier and would probably work out cheaper in the long run to have any deceased personnel scanned, bloods and tissue samples taken and then stored that so that the family can bury their loved one but if anything occurs down the track the stored information can be retrieved readily (Pte Jake Kovco would have been a good subject for this). I could see it being used to gain a court ordered autopsy much more easily, particularly on subjects where their religion/culture forbids autopsy, than a traditional autopsy request especially as a judge or magistrate would probably be more amenable to a scan of a body to exclude suspicions than traditional autopsy methods. I do not, however, see it as a means of replacing the traditional autopsy (or investigative techniques) but instead being used to enhance so it can be used almost as a preliminary autopsy and then the traditional autopsy can be performed if required.