Digital autopsy centre to open at crematorium.
SCALPELS will no longer be needed for many post mortems in the West Midlands from this summer.
Instead of cutting open corpses to find out how a person died, pathologists will use a new technique involving digital scanners.
But the traditional way will still be used in controversial or complicated deaths.
The new PS1.2 million digital equipment is to be installed at Sandwell Valley Crematorium in West Bromwich and will serve all the coroners in the West Midlands.
It is will be operated by iGene, the company behind the world's first digital autopsy equipment, and be run by Sandwell Council.
Training has already begun for the region's pathologists in how to use it and it is expected to open in June.
The system works by doing a scan of the body using a multi-slice CT scanner before iGene's software creates a 3D reconstruction of the body.
This enables the pathologist to conduct a full non-invasive digital post mortem using a large, touch-screen tablet computer and the results are available almost instantly.
Ash Govind, from iGene, said: "This is more than just a technological innovation, it represents a tremendous compassionate step forward in establishing the cause of an unnatural death.
"It eases the emotional burden on families at a time of intense stress with a dignified and non-invasive investigation." Sandwell Council deputy leader Coun Mahboob Hussain said having the choice of a non-invasive autoposy would be comforting to families and would also speed up the process of establishing a cause of death. "It will also help to cut pressure on our mortuaries and hospitals conducting traditional post mortems," he said.
"This won't replace the need for a traditional post mortem in all cases.
"However, as the technology is developed, there will come a time when the majority of autopsies could be done in this way and we're very proud to be leading the way on this in Sandwell."