Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

AFMES upgrades tech during COVID-19

Image of two technicians with a CT scanner machine Staff Sgt. Courtney E. Herrera (front), 436th Medical Support Squadron diagnostic imaging technician trains on a new Computed Tomography (CT) scanner at the Armed Force Medical Examiner System, Dover Air Force Base, Del., April 30, 2020. By custom designing the scanner for forensic operations, AFMES saved the Department of Defense an estimated $700,000, compared to the cost of hospital CT scanners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Coronavirus

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System received a new CT scanner in the autopsy suite in April to better assist the medical examiners with autopsy examinations.

The upgrade was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic and while observing social distancing guidelines.

The new custom built scanner replaces a nearly 15-year-old scanner that was running on dated technology. By custom designing the scanner for forensic operations, AFMES saved the Department of Defense an estimated $700,000, compared to the cost of hospital CT scanners.

“We had reached the end of the lifecycle for the scanner,” said Dr. Howard Harcke, AFMES forensic radiologist. “As with any piece of technology, advances have been made and newer scanners have more and better options.”

The new technology helps produce higher-quality images and improved information by increasing the bore size, or the opening of the scanner, and extending the field of view to 80 centimeters to facilitate whole-body imaging as well as adding dual-energy imaging capability which enhances the visualization of ballistic images. This allows the medical examiners to more efficiently accomplish the AFMES mission for post-mortem imaging.

“Just like your cell phone, as soon as you purchase a new device new technology is available and you get out of date,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alice Briones, AFMES deputy director. “We are excited about the new technology to enhance autopsy examinations.”

A CT scanner helps medical examiners determine cause and manner of death by creating three-dimensional imaging. This allows medical examiners to know exactly where foreign objects are located, provides specific information relating to injury location or confirm unknown natural disease processes.

“The CT scanner provides a capability to reconstruct images obtained in one view and produce them in other views enabling three-dimensional localization,” said Harcke. “This means we can use the CT images to know precisely within the body where an object or organ of interest is located.”

Briones added that CT scans help expedite the autopsy process but can’t be used to replace the autopsy itself.

“The CT is a powerful tool to enhance the autopsy process, and can’t replace the autopsy for many reasons,” said Briones. “For example, some things, such as certain areas of hemorrhage, can only be done by direct visualization at autopsy.”

The 2-month project of replacing the CT scanner meant the removal of the old scanner, new flooring and electrical conduit to prepare for the new scanner and installation the new scanner itself.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a delay in parts and services shipments, said Mr. Willie McDaniel II, AFMES chief clinical engineering.

Additionally, work was unable to be conducted if there were operations in the autopsy suite.

The schedule was broken down into half days in case we could not have access due to operations,” said McDaniel. “Even with the half-day schedule, we continued to be 2 or 3 days ahead of the construction completion schedule.”

During the construction, the medical examiners were without a CT scanner. To overcome this, they used a low-dose X-ray scanner which is capable of providing full-body X-ray.

“When CT is not available the radiographs become the images that are used to prepare the medical examiners for the autopsy,” said Harcke. “This meant the medical examiners were operating with less information and if, needed, they could ask for assistance with our fluoroscopic C-arm, another imaging option that we have available.”

While the low-dose X-ray was able to provide full-body imagery, it did not provide detail like the CT.

The medical examiners rely on specific CT capabilities during autopsy examinations which are vital to the Joint Trauma System and combatant commanders, said Briones.

The new CT scanner also required a training program to cover the additional functions available. However, most of the training was completed online due to social distancing because of the coronavirus, it posed a challenge.

436th Medical Group radiology technologists, medical examiners and support personnel utilized online training using a simulator which operates like the new CT scanner, said Harcke.

“For orientation on the actual unit, we performed training in small groups with appropriate protection and we limited to training to only the essential elements required to begin operations,” said Harcke. “In the future, when restrictions are lifted, we will continue training in a more robust manner.”

Briones concluded that bringing the new CT to AFMES has been a long time coming.

“The better capabilities for our mission set were available and the old CT scanner was having regular failures that were impeding operations,” said Briones. “It allows us to provide timely reports to our stakeholders, commanders, safety boards and closure to our family members.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity.  Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

Guidelines for the Collection and Shipment of Toxicology Specimens

Publication
2/11/2020

This document describes the processes to follow when submitting toxicology specimens

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Forensic Toxicology

MHS prepared to support interagency coronavirus response

Article
2/6/2020
Airmen assist one another in donning their personal protective equipment, while on-board an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during transportation isolation system training at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Engineered and implemented after the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, the TIS is an enclosure the Department of Defense can use to safely transport patients with diseases like novel coronavirus. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody R. Miller)

From R&D to force health protection, MHS protects DoD personnel and families

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

DoD releases guidance to protect forces from novel coronavirus

Article
1/31/2020
The novel coronavirus is a variant of other coronaviruses, such as this colorized transmission electron micrograph of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus particles (blue) found near the periphery of an infected VERO E6 cell (yellow). Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Photo by NIAID)

Basic infection controls offer best defense against illness

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Coronavirus: What providers, patients should know

Article
1/24/2020
Many forms of coronavirus exist among both humans and animals, but this new strain’s has caused alarm. (CDC graphic)

What to do now that virus has appeared in U.S.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

CBD oil off limits for service members

Article
1/23/2020
A service member checks the label on a supplement. Service members must remain diligent and check labels on consumer products and follow official guidance on CBD products. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

The use of CBD products is prohibited for use by service members

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Substance Abuse

DoD adds fentanyl to drug testing panel

Article
11/22/2019
An Airman from the 436th Air Wing inspects a bottle before being asked to provide a urine sample November 8, 2019. The DoD has a zero tolerance policy for the illegal or improper use of drugs by service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Fentanyl is an opioid, similar to heroin

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse | Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

AFMES Joint MWD Lab ensures DoD kennels are meeting the standard

Article
7/8/2019
Air Force Staff Sgt. Vivian Johnson, AFMES Joint MWD Laboratory NCO in charge (left), discusses the upcoming Military Working Dog kennel inspection schedule with Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Tutt, AFMES Joint MWD laboratory manager (center), and Navy Lt. Ken Lindsay, AFMES Joint MWD Laboratory chief, June 7, 2019. Johnson and Tutt conduct random inspections each month to ensure training aids for the MWDs are being handled correctly and those handling them have the proper authorization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Site visits provide an excellent opportunity to educate MWD sites

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Consultation Request Form

Form/Template
5/22/2019

Medical information received is considered during the consultative process and is used to form a database for education and research in pathology.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Forensic Pathology Investigations (FPI)

AFMES DoD DNA Operations Fact Sheet 2018

Fact Sheet
8/22/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Department of Defense DNA Operations

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Forensic Pathology Investigations (FPI) | DoD DNA Operations | Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains

AFMES DNA FAQs 2018

Fact Sheet
6/27/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Forensic Pathology Investigations (FPI) | DoD DNA Operations | DNA Identification Laboratory | Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains

AFMES Fact Sheet 2018

Fact Sheet
6/7/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Forensic Pathology Investigations (FPI) | DoD DNA Operations | Forensic Toxicology

DPAA accounts for 183 missing service members in fiscal year 2017

Article
10/27/2017
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducts a ceremony for POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sept. 15, 2017. POW/MIA Recognition Day, first established in 1979 through a proclamation from President Jimmy Carter, is an observance to honor and recognize the sacrifices of those Americans who have been prisoners of war and to remind the Nation of those who are still missing in action. Today, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is conducting worldwide operations to provide the fullest possible accounting for those classified as still missing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bruch)

DPAA works closely with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, part of the Research and Development Directorate of the Military Health System

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Forensic Pathology Investigations (FPI) | DoD DNA Operations | DNA Identification Laboratory | Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains

DoD Instruction 5154.30: Armed Forces Medical Examiner System AFMES Operations

Policy

This instruction establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides direction for forensic medicine activities throughout DoD In accordance with the authority in DoD Directive (DoDD) 5124.02, and provides for the continued operation and governance of AFMES, a component of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) under DoDD 5136.13, in carrying out assigned functions, including those under Section 1471 of Title 10, United States Code (U.S.C.).

<< < ... 36 > >> 
Showing results 526 - 538 Page 36 of 36

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.