Amanda Ripley

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Virtual Autopsies

27th May 2009 posted in General

Fascinating article in the NY Times about “virtual autopsies” being done on soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2004, CT scans have been given to every service man and woman killed (autopsies have been performed since 2001)—a new procedure implemented by Captain Craig Mallack, a Navy pathologist.

The CT scans have been valuable pragmatically and psychologically, it seems. For the military, the scans reveal blind spots in equipment. The findings have already led to improvements in body armor and medical gear.

But the detailed analysis is also important to the families of the deceased, who crave information about their loved ones’ last moments. According to the Times, about 80-90% of families ask to see the report—which comes with a warning not to read it alone.

An example of the good that can come from using expensive technology wisely—and then sharing the results.