Forensic Medicine, probably more than any other speciality in medicine, has to deal with all aspects of life and death. A forensic pathologist frequently faces circumstances and cases of death that very few other medical specialists ever meet during their whole professional careers and that most laymen do not even know exist. The knowledge of these aspects of human behaviour is of paramount importance for the forensic specialist, who faces these problems when examining the living or the dead. For instance when he has to differentiate between sudden unexpected natural deaths and violent deaths or between suicide, accident and homicide. This differentiation is often very difficult and presupposes a long professional experience and correct interpretation of sometimes very subtle and minute changes, which at first sight or with less experience may appear to be negligible and unimportant.
The differences in legislation, medicolegal systems and the variations in autopsy frequencies in different countries have great influence on how this type of knowledge can be acquired and accumulated during a given training period or professional career. Although nothing can completely replace personal experience in the learning process, it can be supported and made easier by means of good visualisation of the problems in question.
This CD-ROM atlas illustrates and gives good visual coverage of the various frequently encountered aspects of natural and violent deaths, to remind of the limitations and pitfalls in interpretation of the findings, as well as to demonstrate other more rarely seen cases and injuries of forensic importance in the living.
The Atlas of Forensic Medicine is a CD-ROM database containing more than 1600 images of forensic pathological cases with descriptions. These include deaths by violence, suicide, natural deaths and accidents, as well as examinations of living persons. Each image in the database has a number of attributes that together classify the content of the image. Typical attributes are Chapter (categorising the images into chapters and sub-chapters), Body region, Cause of death, Mode of death, Object (weapons, clothing etc.).
The Atlas of Forensic Medicine CD-ROM is the first of its kind in this area. Paper-based atlases have been published previously, but not containing as many images as this CD-ROM. The information is easily and intuitively accessible to a wide range of potential users.
Edited by S. Pollak, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany; and P. Saukko, Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
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