Virtual Autopsy at Delhi-AIIMS pioneering in forensic medicine

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The Centre for Advanced Research and Excellence in Virtual Autopsy, a first-of-its-kind and state-of-the-art centre in India and Southeast Asia at AIIMS Delhi, has become a nodal centre for facilitating further development of virtual autopsy in other institutes across the country such as the NEIGRIMS Shillong, AIIMS Rishikesh, AIIMS Guwahati etc.

In 2018, ICMR headquarters introduced a scheme to establish ten centres to encourage in-depth research on an identified research area with the aim to generate new knowledge and have a better understanding of a particular disease or a health condition. These centres were named “Centres for Advanced Research and Excellence”. Forensic medicine was one of the specialities among the ten in which applications were called. “Centre for Advanced Research and Excellence in Virtual Autopsy” proposed by Dr Sudhir Kumar Gupta, Prof & Head, Department of Forensic Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi was selected as one of the CARE’s by ICMR.

“The primary objective was to assess if we could incorporate the modern imaging techniques including Computed Tomography (CT) in autopsy so that the technique of minimal dissection of the corpse could be followed. The CT scanning of the dead body will also be useful in two key area of research and reference. Firstly it is used for age estimation by studying the ossification centres in various bones. Secondly it will also be used for analysing the internal findings of the organs before opening the body which can be missed in conventional autopsy like internal neck findings in hanging and strangulation which are crucial aspects of Forensic Medicine. The rich radiological data obtained from virtual autopsy is very useful for research purpose. It can be used for various medical research like anatomical variations of skeletal/organs in human body and age-related ossification study in Indian population”, said AIIMS

The Centre for Advanced Research & Excellence (CARE) in Virtual autopsy has a dedicated research facility in an area of about 2400 square feet and PMCT setup in an area of about 800 square feet. CARE along with its PMCT set-up is interconnected with the Odourless Modular Autopsy suite and post-mortem embalming wing. The scanning room of the PMCT set up has a 16-slice MSCT scanner, Canon Inc Aquilion Lightning TSX-035A CT, and the console room of the PMCT setup has dedicated workstations (Vitrea 6.9. and Vitrea 7.10), viewing stations and a RAD storage system. All existing radiation safety regulations in PMCT setup are in accordance with the current regulation of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India (AERB) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).