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New technology a "game changer" for autopsies

Cutting-edge technology could eliminate the need for traditional autopsies, reports CBS Denver. Faith leaders and city officials gathered in the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner Wednesday to check out a device the chief medical examiner called a "game changer."

The Lodox imaging system uses low radiation doses to capture and produce high quality full-body X-rays. In some cases, the images could replace many steps in autopsies, which can be invasive and include the removal of organs.

Many cultures and religions frown on such procedures, such as Jews, Muslims and Native Americans.

The Lodox helps 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 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."

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 CBS Denver, "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, but he notes that not every death in Denver requires an autopsy. He explained autopsies are called for with unexpected deaths, those caused by overdoses, or suspicious deaths perhaps involving violence or other trauma.

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

Even though Lodox can't be used instead of a traditional autopsy in every case, Caruso said the state-of-the-art system will help his office avoid increasing stress for 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 paid $600,000 for it.

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