Body of Proof
THE SOURCE: “Post-Mortem Imaging as an Alternative to Autopsy in the Diagnosis of Adult Deaths: A Validation Study” by Ian S. D. Roberts, Rachel E. Benamore, Emyr W. Benbow, Stephen H. Lee, Jonathan N. Harris, Alan Jackson, Susan Mallett, Tufail Patankar, Charles Peebles, Carl Roobottom, and Zoe C. Traill, in The Lancet, Nov. 22, 2011 (online).
Americans seem to love television dramas revolving around the work of medical examiners, but in the real world, pressure has been mounting for medicine to develop an alternative to autopsies. Grieving families shocked by the unexpected death of a loved one are often reluctant to consent to the grim procedure, and Jews and Muslims object on religious grounds. (Autopsies are most often performed in cases where the cause of death may have been unnatural.) A study by British medical scientists suggests that imaging technologies can establish an accurate cause of death in many cases, sharply reducing the number of autopsies that need to be performed.
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