Sheffield will become the first  city outside Malaysia to offer non-invasive digital autopsy

Digital post-mortems debut in Europe at Sheffield facility

The first digital post-mortem examination facility in Europe will be established in Sheffield, using technology developed in Malaysia.

The £3m state-of-the-art facility will allow pathologists to conduct autopsies without having to cut the body of the deceased apart, sparing the bereaved additional stress.

The Sheffield facility will become the first dissecting room in the world outside Malaysia equipped with the non-invasive technology developed by Malaysian company iGene.

The equipment involves a CT scanning machine with unique software that turns images into a 3D representation of the body that could be displayed on a screen of a computer or a tablet.

Although the technology would probably not be able to identify the cause of death in all cases, the developers believe it  will be suitable to use in about 70 per cent of all autopsies. 

The new centre in Sheffield, which is housed at the city's Medico-Legal Centre, is intended to pave the way for a series of centres nationwide, making the UK the first nation in the world to have such a network.

A centre in Bradford is expected to open next year, and the company aims to have 18 sites across England and Wales open by the end of 2015, with the eventual creation of up to 250 highly skilled jobs.

Sheffield City Council has installed the facility as part of a contract with iGene.

"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,” said Matt Chandran, founder and chief executive of iGene.

"Digital autopsy is more than just a technological innovation; it represents a tremendous humanitarian step forward in establishing the cause of an unnatural death.”

The new facility will train Sheffield’s pathologists and provide them with additional support. It will also recruit further 14 technical professionals to assist the team.

"Sheffield has always prided itself in being at the forefront of modern technology and for embracing pioneering work in the medical field. Yet again we can celebrate another achievement for Sheffield,” said Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore.

Around 95,000 post-mortem examinations were performed in Britain last year, accounting for around 20 per cent of deaths.

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