Advanced Radiologic Imaging in Medicolegal Death Investigation

Advanced Radiologic Imaging in Medicolegal Death Investigation


In conjunction with the University of New Mexico, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) hosted a technology transition workshop focusing on advanced radiologic imaging for medicolegal death investigation on November 11-13, 2016. The workshop was held at the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator Radiology-Pathology Center for Forensic Imaging (CFI) and a computer laboratory at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, School of Medicine.

Over the past 15 years, forensic radiology has evolved from an unstructured process of using clinical radiology and imaging techniques for medicolegal death investigations in special cases to a recognized and specific forensic discipline within medical examiners'/coroners' offices in the United States and death investigation offices worldwide. Forensic imaging can produce valuable evidence for both civil and criminal trials and also produces valuable evidence for the evaluation of non-accidental injuries resulting from child abuse, elder abuse, domestic abuse and assault.

The goal of the workshop was to enable and enhance the effective transfer of advanced imaging technology into forensic practice in the United States. This goal was accomplished by introducing attendees to the history and current status of radiology and advanced imaging in forensics, basic concepts in the production of CT and MR images, CT and MR protocols, image viewing software, 3D rendering, and interpretation/reporting of advanced imaging. Major imaging findings in common types of death were introduced and salient imaging case examples of each was provided in each section of the course. The targeted audience was forensic pathology decision makers including Chief and Assistant Chief Medical Examiners/Coroners, leaders of the National Association of Medical Examiners, and members of the college of American Pathologists Technology Assessment Committee.

Workshop Agenda

Day 1 | November 11, 2016
Lecture Room/Computer Lab

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Forensic Radiology – History to Present Day
  • Imaging Basics for Non-Radiologists I (Physics, PACS, DICOM viewers)
  • Imaging basics for Non-Radiologists II (Imaging Anatomy, Interpreting PMCT)
  • 3D Rendering

Day 2 | November 12, 2016
OMI Imaging Center and Computer Lab

  • Practical Application (Morning Report/Live PMCT Scan Demonstration/Autopsy Suite Tour)
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Thermal Injury
  • Spine Injury
  • Gunshot Wounds
  • Blunt Force Injury
  • Natural Deaths

Day 3 | November 13, 2016
OMI Imaging Center and Computer Lab

  • Practical Application (Morning Report/Live PMCT Scan Demonstration/Autopsy Suite Tour)
  • Potpourri of Unnatural Deaths (Hanging, Sharp Force Injury, Drowning, Asphyxia, Intoxication)
  • Radiologic Identification
  • Child Abuse
  • Protocols
  • Workflow/Reporting
  • Advanced Techniques (Angiography, Biopsy, Surface Scanning, 3D Printing, Ventilation)

Workshop Presenters

Natalie Adolphi, Ph.D.

Dr. Natalie Adolphi is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Radiology, and Pathology at the University of New Mexico and Research Director for the Center for Forensic Imaging. She has over 25 years of experience in research involving Magnetic Resonance (MR), including 45 years of experience applying MR imaging in the postmortem setting. She was the PI of a recent NIJ funded investigation into the evaluation of the impact of post-mortem changes on MR image quality.

Kurt Nolte, M.D.

Dr. Kurt Nolte is a board certified forensic pathologist with 29 years of experience. Dr. Nolte is currently the Chief Medical Investigator of the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, and a full Professor of Pathology and Radiology at the University of New Mexico. He was the Principal Investigator of a previous NIJ-funded project to evaluate the utility of postmortem computed tomography to supplant or supplement medicolegal autopsy for four specific injury cohorts.

Gary M. Hatch, M.D.

Dr. Gary M. Hatch is a board certified general and forensic radiologist and assistant professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, with a joint appointment in the departments of radiology and pathology. He earned his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha, and completed his residency training in diagnostic radiology at the Loma Linda University Medical Center. He gained experience in forensic imaging while working with the Virtopsy Project in Switzerland. Currently, he is the Medical Director of the Center for Forensic Imaging, and is the PI of NIJ funded investigations into the assessment of neural trauma in infants and children using Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Chandra Gerrard

Ms. Chandra Gerrard is a faculty member for the department of Radiology at the University of New Mexico with dual appointments and is an intermittent federal employee for the United States Department of Health and Human Services as a radiologic technologist for the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT) Region VI. Ms. Gerrard is the Supervisor of Forensic Imaging at the Center for Forensic Imaging (CFI), housed in the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator and the clinical radiology research technologist with the department of Radiology at the University of New Mexico. She is currently a Master of Public Health candidate, concentrating in Epidemiology, at the University of New Mexico, College of Population Health, and received a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences from the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine in 2013. She is board certified in Radiography, Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Quality Management. Ms. Gerrard’s primary interest includes pediatric radiography and advanced postmortem pediatric CT and MR imaging.

Related Content

Forensic Use of GPR and LiDAR Technology for Clandestine Grave Detection

This webinar originally occurred on April 18, 2024 Duration: 1 hour Overview George Mason University (GMU) has conducted a technology evaluation of LiDAR deployed on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) for crime scene processing, specifically in…

Improving Methods Using Machine Learning and Databases in Forensic Anthropology

← Back to Webinar Series Page This webinar originally occurred on December 5, 2023Duration: 1 hour Overview Part I: GeoFOR presented by Katherine Weisensee, Ph.D.Estimating the time since death, or the postmortem interval (PMI), poses a significant challenge to forensic…