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Forensic Magazine January 23, 2019: CT Scans Database in New Mexico Could Be Game Changer

Computed tomography (CT) scans are considered the vanguard of forensic science by many pathologists. The high-resolution images and measurements can capture crucial details that may be overlooked by the human eye at an autopsy.

Among the leaders in forensic CT scanning is New Mexico, where the state’s Office of the Medical Investigator and the University of New Mexico have a centralized office for investigating deaths. Together they make CT scans of nearly every person whose death is investigated.

That trove of data could be a game changer later this year. More than 15,000 whole-body CT scans taken over eight years will be included in a huge public database housed at UNM by the end of 2019, providing forensic and medical researchers with a groundbreaking new source of biometrics.

Heather Edgar, a forensic anthropologist at the University of New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator who is heading the project, told Forensic Magazine the project is totally novel.

“We’re the first to really do this—and we’re the first to do everybody,” she said. “The dataset is large, there’s nothing comparable … There are things you can see on CT that you can’t see by cutting open a body.” more

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