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New Technology In Denver A 'Game Changer' For Traditional Autopsies

DENVER (CBS4) – With the cut of a ribbon Wednesday afternoon came celebration for cutting-edge technology. Faith leaders and city officials gathered inside the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner to check out a new device the chief medical examiner called a "game changer."

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The Lodox imaging systems uses low radiation doses to capture and produce high-quality, full-body x-rays. In some cases, it may avoid the requirement of traditional autopsies, which can be invasive and include the removal of organs. Many cultural and religious communities object to such procedures – like those who are Jewish, Muslim and Native American.

The Lodox help coroners better meet the needs of such faith-based groups without compromising the OME's standards.

"It's state-of-the-art technology," Dr. James Caruso said. "It changes what is a 30 minute or more procedure to a matter of a minute or two. The Lodox will demonstrate trauma, foreign objects in the body, like bullets, and it gives the doctors a piece of information to help them decide [if] an autopsy doesn't need to be done and we don't have to put the family through more stress."

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Among the faith leaders attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Doug Good Feather of Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Imam Mohamed Kolila with the Downtown Denver Islamic Center, and Rabbi Tzvi Steinberg of the Coalition of Synagogue Rabbis of Denver.

"When the body is cut or there's loss of blood from the body," Steinberg explained to CBS4, "we universally believe, we universally feel, that this is a desecration. Dr. Caruso has been an advocate for these types of sensitivities toward the faith-based communities, and [Lodox] is a wonderful advancement."

Caruso said his office completes about 700 autopsies every year, adding not every death in Denver requires an autopsy. He explained they investigate unexpected deaths, those caused by overdoses, or suspicious deaths perhaps involving violence or other trauma.

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"To the extent possible," he said, "we will not do an autopsy if we can avoid it."

Even though Lodox cannot replace a traditional autopsy in every case, Caruso said the state-of-the-art system will help his office avoid instances of adding stress to a family already grieving the loss of a loved one.

"This, for us, is very significant," Rabbi Steinberg said. "It gives us a great deal of comfort."

The Lodox system has been used in Denver since October. The city purchased this system for $600,000.

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