Background: Forensic imaging was officially introduced in Israel in 2011. Religious and cultural opposition to autopsies prevails in most of the population in Israel.
Objectives: To examine the extent to which forensic imaging has been accepted as an adjuvant or partial replacement of forensic autopsy, particularly among those opposed to forensic autopsy.
Methods: The study was conducted in a pediatric population. Data were collected from the National Center of Forensic Medicine and Assaf Harofeh Medical Center during the 18 month period following the introduction of forensic imaging (group A). The data were compared to those of the previous 18 months (group B). The examined parameters were cases submitted, examined, autopsied or imaged depending on family consent.
Results: Consent to autopsy was similar in both groups (A = 56% vs. B = 54%). In group A, consent for imaging was 24% of all cases, and of those imaged 77% underwent autopsy. Of those examined externally only, 16% consented to imaging. For 7% of the total cases in group A, estimation of cause of death was based on virtopsy alone.
Conclusions: In a country with a high level of religious opposition to autopsy, it is a challenge to add forensic to the pediatric forensic investigation. Those consenting to forensic imaging are more likely to be those consenting to autopsy. Consent for forensic imaging only was given in 7% of cases. Greater efforts should be invested to educate and inform the public regarding the benefits of virtual autopsy and the importance of data acquired from forensic images.