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Malaysian tech powers world's first digital autopsy facility in the UK

AvantiKumar | Nov. 29, 2013
Malaysian advanced medical visualisation enables a tremendous compassionate step forward in establishing the cause of an unnatural death, says iGenie's founder and CEO Matt Chandran.

Prof Peter Vanezis, Consultant Forensic Pathologist

Photo - Professor Peter Vanezis, Consultant Forensic Pathologist to the Home Office and Chief Medical Officer for iGene in the UK


Malaysian advanced medical visualisation technology firm iGene, an Infovalley company, has helped the UK to become the first nation in the world to establish a network of state-of-the-art, non-invasive digital autopsy facilities amounting to a total investment of £50 million [RM264 million] across 18 facilities, it said.

Opened on 27 November 2013 by the Chief Coroner for England and Wales, His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, the first £3 million [RM15.84 million] digital autopsy facility, which will establish cause of death by using the advanced visualisation software and a scanner rather than scalpel, is housed at Sheffield's Medico-Legal Centre.

iGene founder and chief executive officer, Matt Chandran, said: "This is the first digital autopsy network anywhere in the world, which is a testament to the innovative thought-leadership of the UK Government and forward-thinking cities like Sheffield and others across the country, with whom we are working."

"Digital autopsy is more than just a technological innovation; it represents a tremendous compassionate step forward in establishing the cause of an unnatural death," said Chandran. "That the UK is the first country to adopt such an advanced system for post-mortem speaks highly of a society, which accords dignity to the living as well as the dead. It also clearly places UK as a leader in innovation of the medical sciences and high technology."

"Unlike classical autopsy, the process involves no mutilation of the body, allowing the deceased a dignity in death, and removes a process that is increasingly viewed as outdated and invasive, and a cause of tremendous grief for bereaved families," he said.

"Digital Autopsy is an efficient process that takes only minutes to complete, which also facilitates early release of bodies for burial or cremation, often another important factor in easing the concerns of bereaved families," said Chandran, adding that the technology includes 'unique 3D visualisation software.'

The new centre in Sheffield is the first facility in the world outside its birthplace in Malaysia, and paves the way for a nationwide network of facilities, signalling a £50 million investment, he added.

Judge Peter Thornton QC & Matt Chandran, iGene

Photo - (From left)  His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC & Matt Chandran, founder and CEO of iGene

 3D digital autopsy

Chandran said, "Digital Autopsy involves a scan of the body using a GE CT scanner, before iGene's revolutionary, proprietary software 'INFOPSY' creates a 3D image of the body, enabling the pathologist to conduct a full, non-invasive digital post mortem using a large touchscreen tablet computer. Where necessary, the scene of death or crime could also be reconstructed digitally using the 3D capabilities of the system. The results are available almost immediately."

He said the benefits include:

- Easing the emotional burden on families at a time of intense stress with a non-invasive investigation.
- Speed of examination, investigation and subsequent autopsy results, minimising delays in releasing the body for burial or cremation.
- Accuracy of results: some findings that are difficult to spot during a conventional process can be more easily identified and examined in line with the needs of forensic pathologists.

Professor Peter Vanezis, consultant forensic pathologist to the Home Office and chief medical officer for iGene in the UK, said: "The partnership with Coroners is of paramount importance. As Chief Medical Officer, I will continue to work closely with local authority Coroners, with whom I have had long relationships over the years, to understand their needs and see how Digital Autopsy can be used to complement the traditional, invasive post mortem.
"I am also setting up a steering committee of experts to assist me in this work, including pathologists, radiologists, radiographers and physicists; people from both medical and scientific disciplines," he said. "This steering committee will ensure quality assurance and strengthen the links between the new technology and existing ones."


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