The world's first digital autopsy centre outside of Malaysia has opened in Sheffield and will revolutionise the way post mortems are carried out.
The £3m Digital Autopsy Facility is housed at the Medico-Legal Centre and was opened by the chief coroner for England and Wales, His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC.
It will allow experts to produce a 3D digital image of a dead body, and can reconstruct the scene of death where a crime took place to establish the cause of an unnatural death.
The facility is the first of 18 to be opened across the UK at a total cost of £50m.
Digital autopsies scan the body using a CT machine, before technology developed by creator iGene creates a 3D image of the body, allowing pathologists to conduct a full post mortem with a touchscreen tablet computer.
iGene also claims to be more accurate than traditional autopsies, as pathologists are able to more easily identify problems that may be difficult to spot during a conventional post mortem - the technology has been developed in line with the needs of pathologists.
Researchers also say they are faster than traditional methods, taking just minutes to complete. This means results can be produced quicker, minimising delays in releasing a body for burial.
Around 550,000 people die in England and Wales every year, with over 200,000 of these requiring a medical examination. iGene claims over 70% of these cases could be concluded with the use of digital autopsies alone.
Matt Chandran, founder and chief executive officer of iGene, said: "Digital Autopsy ... represents a tremendous compassionate step forward in establishing the cause of an unnatural death.
"That the UK is the first country to adopt such an advanced system for post-mortem speaks highly of a society which accords dignity to the living as well as the dead. It also clearly places UK as a leader in innovation of the medical sciences and high technology."
"Unlike classical autopsy, the process involves no mutilation of the body, allowing the deceased a dignity in death, and removes a process that is increasingly viewed as outdated and invasive, and a cause of tremendous grief for bereaved families.
Sheffield City Council Leader, councillor Julie Dore, said: "There are countless families who will be able to benefit from our city having this new facility.
"I am also pleased that we have been able to secure the new £3m Sheffield centre at no cost to the council and I welcome iGene to our city in this ground breaking deal. The facility will train and support the pathology team in Sheffield as well as recruiting up to 14 other highly-skilled support staff to work along-side them."
Professor Peter Vanezis, consultant forensic pathologist to the Home Office and Chief Medical Officer for iGene in the UK, added: "The partnership with Coroners is of paramount importance. As chief medical officer, I will continue to work closely with local authority coroners, with whom I have had long relationships over the years, to understand their needs and see how Digital Autopsy can be used to complement the traditional, invasive post mortem."
iGene plans to open the 18 centres by the end of 2015, with the next due to open in Bradford next year.