The Virtopsy Approach: 3D Optical and Radiological Scanning and Reconstruction in Forensic Medicine, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Virtopsy Approach

3D Optical and Radiological Scanning and Reconstruction in Forensic Medicine, 1st Edition

Edited by Michael Thali, Richard Dirnhofer, Peter Vock

CRC Press

536 pages | 649 Color Illus. | 300 B/W Illus.

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Charred, badly decomposed, or mummified corpses, as well as those restrictions forced upon coroners by certain religious sects, often make autopsies impossible to perform. In addition, lack of manpower among the personnel charged with performing autopsies frequently creates a backlog of cases in the coroner’s office. This delay increases the likelihood that causes of death will go undetermined and criminal perpetrators will go unpunished. The solution can be found in what has come to be known as the virtopsy®, a minimally invasive and efficient way to perform an autopsy through state-of-the-art imaging-guided means.

A term coined by noted forensic pathologist Richard Dirnhofer, virtopsy refers to "virtual autopsy," a modality that employs a spectrum of technologies including computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, and 3D photogrammetry and surface scanning. In The Virtopsy Approach: 3D Optical and Radiological Scanning and Reconstruction in Forensic Medicine, the authors reveal a comprehensive summary of the virtopsy procedure. Well-organized, detailed enough to serve as a how-to guide for newcomers to the field, and copiously illustrated with many color figures accompanied by appropriate explanatory captions, this volume breaks new ground in the world of autopsy science.


This excellent text is not an endpoint in these exciting develop-ments but a stepping-stone which may motivate forensic scientists to tackle the many unsolved problems and questions in forensic science using modem methods that have proven their enormous value in chemistry and medicine.

—Dr. Michael J. Shkrum, Department of Pathology London Health Sciences Centre, Canadian Society of Forensic Scienc, Vol. 43, No. 1, March 2010

… an excellent compendium of information about one of the latest techniques of autopsy - the virtual autopsy or virtopsy as it is more commonly known.

—Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

Table of Contents



(R)evolution in Forensic Medicine - Preface

From Autopsy to Virtopsy: Oral Description Versus Image – Value of Evidence

History of Virtopsy – How it all began…

"Virtopsy ® after more than some 100 cases: Statement and Perspectives of Forensic Imaging by using 3D Optical and combined CT / MRI Whole Body Scanning"

Legal Side

Virtopsy and the Law

The Extraordinary Death

Virtopsy and the Swiss Legal system - New Evidence Law in Forensic Medicine?


Imaging and Visualization Methods / Explanation of Technique

External Body Documentation

Historical Development of Geometric Documentation of Wounds in Forensic Medicine

Photogrammetrical 3D Documentation

Optical 3D Surface Scanning

Photogrammetry and 3D Surface Scanning of the Deceased

Digitizing of Injuries of Living Persons

Internal Body Documentation

Conventional Radiography

X-ray Computed Tomography


Basics of MR Imaging and Spectroscopy

Virtual Histology by Magnetic Resonance Microscopy

3D Visualization of Radiological Data

Visualization of Radiological Data - Basics

Visualization of Radiological Data - Future

Storage of Radiological Data  (PACS)

The Virtopsy Database

Head to toe: Forensic Atlas and Application of Imaging  techniques

Intravital Versus Post-Mortem Imaging

The Virtopsy Project – a Historical Overview of the Literature

External Body Documentation

3D Photogrammetric Analysis of Injuries

Generation of 3D Models from the Surface Scanning Data

Visualization of the 3D Models in True Color

Internal Body Documentation

Conventional Radiology

Computed Tomography – CT

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – MRI

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy  in Forensic Medicine

Documentation of Extracorporeal Findings

Injury-Inflicting Instruments

Incident Scenes

Forensic Topics

Radiologic Identification



Investigation of Decomposing Sheep Brain by Means of 1H-MR-Spectroscopy: An Attempt Towards an Objective PMI Estimation in the Later Postmortem Period

Vital Reactions / Vital Signs

Incident Specific

Natural Death

Cerebral Pathology in Natural Death

Cardiac Pathology

Other Organsystem Pathology

Post-Mortem Imaging of Blunt Trauma

Forensic Neuroimaging

Sharp Trauma


Fatal Hemorrhage in Post-mortem Cross Sectional Radiology


Drowning - Post-Mortem Imaging Findings

Thermal Damage

Thermal Damage – Heat and Burns



Clinical Forensic Imaging

Medical Malpractice

Virtopsy as a Multi Tool Approach

Analysis, Visualization and Reconstruction Methods

Morphologic- Geometric Comparison of Patterned Injuries with the Assumed Injury Causing Tool

Forensic Reconstruction

Blood Spatter Analysis

Footprint Documentation



Post-Mortem Angiography: Historical Review and Overview of Former and Current Techniques

Postmortem Minimal Invasive Angiography

Experiences with Virtual Autopsy Approached Worldwide



Forensic Veterinary Radiology

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
MEDICAL / Radiology & Nuclear Medicine
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology