Forensic Medicine & Imaging Research Group
Strangulation refers to violence against the neck and most often occurs in the context of domestic violence. It can lead to diverse symptoms including difficulty breathing, nausea or difficulty swallowing and can induce danger to life. However, strangulation often leaves no external traces, or traces that are solely visible for a short period of time, thereby resulting in a lack of objective evidence. As forensic pathologists usually only perform an external examination after a strangulation incident, such cases are very difficult from a juridical point of view. Nevertheless, our research group could show that using MRI of the neck, traces of a strangulation attempt are still visible up to 12 days after the incident, even when no external findings are present. Therefore, imaging techniques should become an integral part of forensic routine services, and victims, physicians, police officers, as well as prosecutors should know about this possibility.
The "Forensic Medicine & Imaging Research Group" of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Basel supports the introduction of imaging into forensic routine by conducting research on the forensic use of CT, MRI and infrared photography mostly post mortem in situ, in the case of strangulation also in vivo. Besides additional and objective findings for forensic routine, post mortem imaging further allows the validation of imaging techniques by subsequent histology of the tissue. Unfortunately, post mortem imaging is not widely applied yet, despite its huge potential for forensic routine services, as well as for the validation of in vivo imaging techniques.
Our research group currently involves researchers from the disciplines medicine, physics and biomedical engineering. The group sees itself as a bridge between forensic services and biomedical research and tries to develop new standard procedures and cooperation routines by working closely with the physicians from forensic routine.