"Basically, the technique is used to highlight and examine the vessels of the heart in people who have died. The technique is inexpensive, easy to use and applicable to natural and unnatural death, both single and mass fatalities."
Professor Rutty explained the technique was novel because it uses catheterisation, contrast and imaging techniques that have not been reported previously. "Developing a new catheterisation system and using two different types of contrast to highlight the coronary vessels (air and standard coronary radio-opaque contrast media) sets us apart from other research groups," he said.
Professor Rutty added: "We were the first Unit in the world to our knowledge to propose targeted angiography as the way forward, and are now the first to describe the development, methodology and protocols involved for cadaver cardiac CT angiography. Other groups have done whole body angiography which is time consuming and expensive and is unlikely to be implemented in the UK for everyday autopsies.
"We are incredibly excited about the potential of this new research. This technique could see the beginning of a permanent change in autopsy practice in the UK, with fewer autopsies being performed. This technique could be used in other centres across the world."
The research paper presents the results from an initial pilot of 24 cases. The University team will now complete a further 200 cases this year to further evaluate the technique and build a bigger evidence base.
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