Postmortem imaging of perimortem skeletal trauma

Zuzana Obertová, Anja Leipner, Carmelo Messina, Angelo Vanzulli, Barbara Fliss, Cristina Cattaneo, Luca Maria Sconfienza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various imaging modalities, including conventional radiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, and surface scanning have been applied in the examination of skeletal injuries in the forensic context. Although still not a substitute for a full medico-legal autopsy or the examination of skeletal remains, imaging is now increasingly used as a complementary tool in the postmortem analysis of perimortem skeletal trauma. Facilitated by the progress in general computational capacity, multimodal imaging has been proposed for comprehensive forensic documentation. A major advantage of these imaging approaches is that stored digital or physical 3D models of skeletal injuries can be reviewed at any time by various experts as well as be presented in court as evidence to clarify potentially complex medical and forensic aspects of the case. Due to constant technical progress in imaging techniques and software, continuous education, training, and sharing of expertise among engineers, computer scientists, and forensic experts, including forensic pathologists, anthropologists, and radiologists needs to be warranted to maintain high-quality expertise in the detection and interpretation of traumatic injuries on postmortem imaging. The technical developments and ever-improving user-friendliness of 3D imaging and modeling techniques present an atttactive alternative to traditional forensic approaches, but as long as the techniques have not been sufficiently tested and validated for forensic trauma analysis, and best practice manuals for forensic practice are lacking for both the technical procedures and method selection, the use of imaging techniques needs to be reevaluated on a case-by-case basis. In addition, ethical, legal, and financial aspects of the use of imaging and 3D modeling for forensic purposes need to be well understood by all parties in legal proceedings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109921
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019


  • 3D mode
  • Computed tomography
  • Fracture
  • Ling
  • Mechanism of injury
  • Radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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