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CT scanner arrives in SA to reduce post mortem wait times

12 August 2020

Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA) now has a dedicated, on-site CT scanner, which will help reduce post mortem report wait times and ease delays in the justice system. 

Having a new, dedicated CT scanner for FSSA means all bodies can be scanned on admission to the mortuary and assessed for the need for a full post mortem examination. 

"This new CT scanner will allow Forensic Science SA to reduce the number of full post mortem examinations that need to be performed by forensic pathologists," Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

"It brings South Australia in line with best practice in other states around Australia. A dedicated CT scanner has shown to save significant time and resources interstate and we expect to see similar results in our state."

There are currently more than 1200 post mortem reports waiting to be completed in SA, 30 per cent over nine months old and 15 per cent over 12 months old. 

"We know that this is too long for families and loved ones to wait for answers. That's why we've acted to address this, and funded this much-needed resource," Ms Chapman said.

FSSA Director Chris Pearman said CT scanning was an increasingly useful tool in forensic medicine. 

"CT scanning can contribute important, additional information that may not always be found during an autopsy," he said. 

"There is also the benefit of having a digital record of the body which is easily stored, and able to be viewed by others, such as in coronial inquests or criminal trials.

"Odontologists can identify bodies by comparing CT images to dental records rather than conducting invasive procedures, and images are produced that may be more suitable for court than autopsy photos.

"We also have the capacity to accurately locate foreign objects such as bullets and medical devices, saving time at autopsy, and identifying potential dangers to mortuary staff such as fractured bones which can cause needle stick injuries."

The CT scanner has been in operation at FSSA since July 2020.