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Specialties - Forensic Radiography 28 June 2017

Forensic medicine refers to the application of medical knowledge in the collection of medical evidence to be used in a court of law. Such evidence may be collected from either living or deceased subjects with the latter presented as either whole cadavers or as pathological specimens. Forensic radiography is the application of the science of diagnostic imaging to questions of law.

Our departmental protocol (IR(ME)R 2000 Appendix 21) is structured upon three applications of radiography for forensic purposes:

  1. Investigation of non-fatal injuries. The production of evidence to support the investigation of injury to an individual or individuals.
    • Suspected Non-Accidental Injury (NAI) in Paediatrics
    • Radiology specific procedures for Safeguarding Adults
  1. Location of other forensic evidence. The provision of imaging evidence to demonstrate the presence of hidden foreign bodies.
    • Suspected human narcotic packing detection (drug smuggling)
  1. Cause of Death. The production of evidence to support the investigation of suspicious or unexplained death of an individual or individuals.
    • Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infants (SUDI)
    • Post mortem
    • Pathological Specimens
    • Mass fatalities / Major Incident

Plain Film Radiography is one of the most commonly used methods in the collection of forensic evidence. Radiography (digital and analogue) using AP and Lateral views are the foundation of forensic radiography; however, Intra-Oral Radiography, Fluoroscopy, CT, MRI, Ultrasound and Nuclear Medicine may also be employed.

Radiography is particularly useful for:

  • Confirming the identity of both living and deceased subjects;
  • Identifying pre-existing skeletal trauma, e.g. in cases of suspected non-accidental injuries;
  • Assisting in the determination and / or confirmation of cause of death;
  • Locating hidden foreign bodies, such as packages of illegal substances and fragments of explosives.

For more information, please visit the International Association of Forensic Radiographers