University breakthrough applied by Leicesters Hospitals to provide pioneering noninvasive autopsy service

Earlier this year, findings from our University represented a breakthrough in how autopsy practice could be conducted in the UK and worldwide.

Leicester's Hospitals has announced that traditional post mortem examinations are being replaced with less intrusive alternatives, such as using a specialised x-ray technique known as Post Mortem Computed Tomography (PMCT). This pioneering approach has been introduced in response to the wishes of the community and has been running at Leicester Royal Infirmary since 2015, but until now has required independent funding from families.  

From today, if post-mortem investigation is required by HM Senior Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire to establish the cause of death, pathologists will determine what approach is required and the least invasive approach, including using PMCT instead of post mortem will be taken whenever possible. Where there are important questions that PMCT cannot answer, a traditional post mortem will still need to be performed.

The PMCT service has been developed after 15 years of research conducted by Professor Guy Rutty MBE, Chief Forensic Pathologist for University of Leicester, Professor Bruno Morgan, Cancer Imaging and Radiology at Leicester’s Hospitals and the University of Leicester, and Claire Robinson, Lead Forensic Radiographer for Leicester’s Hospitals.  

In conjunction with our University, the mortuary, radiology and pathology teams at Leicester’s Hospitals have developed techniques that have shown that PMCT can replace or enhance the traditional post mortem in many circumstances.

Professor Morgan, said:  “We are extremely grateful to all team members for making this service possible. Despite being very busy in their everyday jobs, they have all made compromises to deliver this service for the public of Leicester City and South Leicestershire.”

Establishing this service would not have been possible without the pioneering work of Professor Guy Rutty and support of the wider management teams and the Trust board at Leicester’s Hospitals.

  • A written feature about the study providing further information is available here
  • A letter from HM Senior Coroner Catherine Mason lending her full support to the collaborative study is available on the University of Leicester website here
  • Postgraduate teaching programs in PMCT at the University of Leicester:

    • Post Mortem Radiology for Natural and Forensic Death
    • Post Mortem Radiology for Natural and Forensic Death Investigation, MSc

    A video highlighting the new research is available here: