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Postmortem computer tomography (CT) came into practice of forensic medicine in the 1990s and has later been complemented with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A pioneer virtual autopsy was conducted in Germany in 1983. In the Czech Republic, this examination was first performed in 1993.

A typical examination requires about 30 min, with the most resource-demanding stage being the image data rendering. CT was shown to better capture skeletal structures, while MRI contrasting is superior in terms of visualising soft tissues. In the Czech Republic, CT-based virtopsy is legislated mandatory to document deaths inflicted by gunshots, road traffic and aviation accidents, high falls, occupational and explosive-related injuries, thermal and mechanical traumas, strangulation, drowning as well as to examine unidentified or decomposing bodies, deceased children and adolescents aged under 18.

CT scanning prior to conventional autopsy provides a forensic expert with guidance to reveal pathologies non-invasively in particular regions that are difficult to dissect or access. The advantage of virtopsy is the objective acquisition of data that can be re-examined, reinterpreted or juxtaposed with the results of conventional autopsy and easily recovered for possible further expertise. 

About the authors

J. Frishons

Masaryk University and St. Anne’s Faculty Hospital;
Charles University

Author for correspondence.

Anatomist, Laboratory Assistant, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine; Brno;

Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Faculty of Medicine,

Hradec Kralove

Czech Republic