Virtual Autopsies Provide New Insights into Death

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The main reason is that relatives are often determined not to allow the body of their deceased family member be cut open, says specialist Wichmann of the Hamburg university hospital. The bereaved are far less queasy about virtual autopsy.

To their delight, the Swiss pioneers have also discovered that the new autopsy method makes it less likely that they will be confronted with excessively bloody experiences, such as in the case of a mountain climber who had fallen to his death in the Swiss Alps. The diagnosis reached by Thali's team included a shattered neurocranium, a fractured lumbar spine and a broken lower leg -- all done on a computer screen.

Other examinations, even those performed virtually, can still be messy. A dead body that remained undetected in an apartment for weeks and has begun to decompose still isn't easy to look at, even in the form of a 3-D image on a computer screen.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.

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