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“Just like your cell phone, as soon as you purchase a new device new technology is available and you get out of date,” said U.S. Air Force Lt.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...

VAX Facts: Breastfeeding after the COVID-19 Vaccine

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins encourages people who are breastfeeding to get the vaccine. Since the vaccine doesn't contain live virus, you can't pass COVID to your baby.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Do I Need the Vaccine if I Had COVID?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting vaccinated even if you already had COVID. We're not sure how long natural immunity lasts, so getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Adolescents ages 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
5/27/2021
Son of military personnel receiving his COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer vaccine now authorized for children 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Vaccination Card Second Shot

Infographic
5/27/2021
Graphic saying that keeping track of your vaccination card is important. Includes a helpful tips section, a link to www.tricare.mil/covidvaccine, and what to do when you didn’t get your vaccination card or don’t have a copy. The TRICARE logo is on the bottom right of the page.

Keep track of your vaccination card. Tips include keeping your card on you and taking a picture of it as a backup copy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Costs and Documentation | Coronavirus

Town Hall May 26 2021

Video
5/26/2021
Town Hall May 26 2021

RADM Anne Swap will discuss the National Capital Region's response to COVID-19

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | National Capital Region Market

COVID-19 Town Hall with RADM Anne M. Swap

Article
5/24/2021
MHS and Military OneSource NCR COVID-19 Town Hall with Rear Admiral Anne M. Swap, Director, National Capital Medical Directorate, Wednesday, May 26 at 11:50 a.m. ET

The purpose of this event is to inform National Capital Region (NCR) beneficiaries of DHA’s efforts with battling coronavirus (COVID-19) and encourage them to not delay care.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health

Adirim, Place laud DHA response to COVID-19 in briefing

Article
5/21/2021
Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place speaking at a press conference

Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, provided a COVID-19 update during a Pentagon press briefing.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Sailors continue to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Article
5/20/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

Sailors continue to voluntarily receive one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

MHS quickly adapted to improve patient experience during pandemic

Article
5/19/2021
Military health personnel waiting for the next phone call on the COVID-19 advice line

MHS adapted technology to boost patient experience during pandemic

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

DHA Director visits MCAGCC to hear from the ‘Boots on the Ground’

Article
5/19/2021
Military personnel wearing face masks walking

DHA Director visits Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Military Health System Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Palliative care provides comfort to COVID-19 patients, families

Article
5/17/2021
Military health personnel taking care of a patient

Medical Center team develops palliative care toolkit for COVID-19 patients

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Military medicine heroes recognized for COVID-19 pandemic response

Article
5/17/2021
Photo of the virtual "Heroes of Military Medicine" award ceremony

COVID-19 pandemic will affect military medicine for years to come, DHA Director Place tells HJF awards ceremony.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

DHA leadership recognizes, advances 60th MDG mission

Article
5/14/2021
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place visits Travis Air Force Base

DHA leadership visit 60th Medical Group at Travis AFB.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS

Teamwork, adaptability, service – MTFs shine during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
5/14/2021
People at screening area

MHS readiness was put to the test at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Toolkit | May | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Join Us!! Sixth Live COVID-19 Town Hall

Article
5/12/2021
Image describing today's Town Hall with Dr. Paul Scott and COL Clinton K. Murray, MD.  They are with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and will discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Advancement and Trials.

Join us for today's Town Hall with Dr. Paul Scott and COL Clinton K. Murray, MD. They are with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and will discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Advancement and Trials.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 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.