Forensic Radiology and The Future
When most people hear the word “forensics” they picture teams of people in full-body suits squinting over crime scenes with flashlights and running objects for fingerprints. But the reality is that there is much more to forensics than what you see on television. Forensic radiology, for example, can be a crucial part of collecting evidence when a death has occurred. And as it continues to evolve, it will likely become an even more crucial factor in criminal investigations.
What is Forensic Radiology?
Forensic radiology is the name given to the area of medical imaging in which radiological images are examined for use in court procedures or law enforcement. Some of the main uses for forensic radiology are:
• Confirming the identity of persons both living and dead
• Identifying pre-existing skeletal trauma
• Aiding in determining or confirming cause of death
• Locating hidden foreign bodies that may be related to the above
These can apply to a great number of scenarios, not all of which are crime based. Yes, forensic radiology may be used in cases of potential homicide, but it is also important in identifying and determining the cause of death for victims in cases of:
• Severely decomposed cadavers
• Infant deaths
• Burn victims
• Unidentified cadavers
However, those who require forensic radiology are not necessarily always deceased. For example, in cases of suspected child abuse, a child may be examined using radiology imaging processes for signs of repeated physical trauma.
In fact, forensic radiology does not even always need to be used on people. Forensic radiology imaging techniques can be applied to valuable paintings in order to check for counterfeiting. It allows experts to detect if a work of art has been painted over an existing piece in order to make it appear older than it is.
Future Forensic Radiology Trends
As with anything when it comes to science or technology, the field of forensic radiology is constantly evolving. As more efficient technologies and processes become available, the work becomes more reliable and completed in a more timely manner. Some of the most exciting trends are things that are already happening — and some are set to take off in just a matter of years. Here are just a couple of ideas for what we will see in the future of forensic radiology.
Currently, an autopsy occurs much in the way it is portrayed on film and television. A qualified professional will open the body and examine the remains in order to determine cause of death and other potential evidence within. It the near future however, it is conceivable that virtual autopsies will become the norm. The technology already exists to allow experts to view the interior of a body using non-invasive techniques — that is to say, without having to open up the body at all, creating a 3D model of the body. This would also allow for certain evidence to be stored and easily compared within existing databases.
In a similar vein, something that is already transforming the way experts are able to perform forensic radiology processes is the transition to digital. Not only does it allow for clearer and quicker images to be taken, but it also has transformed entire processes, allowing much greater efficiency across the board. Rather than using analog film and stacks upon stacks of files, we are now able to upload images directly to online databases and easily store, compare, and send images to other relevant parties. Such processes are also in place in many regular medical facilities across the globe. You can learn more about this kind of radiology information system here.
Forensic radiology is a crucial factor in many criminal proceedings, and with the way that it is evolving, it is no stretch to say that it will continue to become even more integral in the years to come.