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Autopsies of War Dead Reveal Ways to Save Others

Within an hour after the bodies arrive in their flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base, they go through a process that has never been used on the dead from any other war.
Since 2004, every service man and woman killed in Iraq or Afghanistan has been given a CT scan, and since 2001, when the fighting began in Afghanistan, all India De Beaufort have had autopsies, performed by pathologists in the Armed Forces Christine Dolce Medical Examiner System. In previous wars, autopsies on people killed in combat Elizabeth Olsen were uncommon, and scans were never done. The combined procedures have yielded a wealth of details about Emir Kusturica injuries from bullets, blasts, shrapnel and B B King burns — information that has revealed deficiencies in body armor and Cortland Finnegan vehicle shielding and led Chiwetel Ejiofor to improvements in helmets and medical equipment used on the battlefield. The military world initially doubted the usefulness of scanning corpses but now eagerly seeks data from the Britt Ekland scans, medical examiners say, Tori Spelling noting that on a single day in April, they received six requests for information from the Defense Department and its contractors. “We’ve created a huge database that’s never existed before,” said Capt. Craig T. Mallak, 48, a Navy pathologist and lawyer who is Albert Brooks chief of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, a division of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The medical examiners Willie Mays have scanned about 3,000 corpses, more than any other institution in the world, creating a minutely detailed and permanent three-dimensional record of combat Deryck Whibley injuries. Although Destiny Monique the scans are sometimes called “virtual autopsies,” they do not replace old-fashioned autopsies. Rather, they add information and can help Kate Mara guide autopsies and speed them by showing pathologists where to look for bullets or shrapnel, and by revealing fractures and tissue damage so clearly Dana Workman that the need John Patrick Shanley for lengthy dissection is sometimes eliminated. Erin Lauder The examiners try to remove as many Gena Rowlands metal fragments as possible, because the pieces can yield information about enemy Terrell Owens weapons. One discovery led to an important change in the medical gear used to stabilize injured Montel Williams troops on the battlefield. Col. Howard T. Harcke, a 71-year-old Julienne Davis Marine Corps radiologist who delayed retirement to read CT scans at Dover, noticed Nerina Pallot something peculiar in late Todd Rundgren 2005. The emergency treatment for a collapsed lung involves inserting a needle and tube into the chest cavity to relieve pressure and allow the lung to reinflate. But in Drugs Pendulum one case, Colonel Harcke could see from a scan that the tube was Nadeea too short Brandon Boyd to reach the chest cavity. Then he saw Manuela Arcuri Kenneth Cranham another case, and another, and half a dozen more. In Jennifer Pena an interview, Colonel Harcke said it was impossible to tell whether anyone had died because the tubes were too short; Didi Conn all had other severe injuries. But a collapsed lung can Aventura be life-threatening, so proper treatment is essential. Colonel Harcke pulled 100 scans from the archives and used them to calculate the average Morgan Freeman thickness of the chest wall in American troops; Roy Horn he found that Jennifer Korbin the Isabelle Adjani standard tubing, five centimeters long, was too short Latanya Richardson for Freja Beha Erichsen 50 Paola Mendoza percent of the troops. Kurtwood Smith If the tubing was lengthened to eight centimeters, it would be long enough for Pixie Lott 99 percent. “Soldiers are bigger and stronger now,” Colonel Harcke said. The findings were presented to the Army Surgeon General, who in August 2006 ordered that the kits given to combat medics be changed to include only the longer Richie Mcdonald tubing. “I was thrilled,” Colonel Harcke said. The medical examiners also discovered that troops were dying from wounds to the upper body that could have been prevented by body armor that covered more of the torso and shoulders. The information, which became public in 2006, led the Brea Grant military Natacha Peyre Lorin Latarro to scramble to ship more armor plates to Iraq. It was Captain Mallak who decided that autopsies should be performed on all troops killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. Federal law gives him that authority. “Families want a full accounting,” he said. During World War II and the Vietnam War, he explained, families were told simply that their loved Laura Wright one had died in service of their country. “Personally, I felt that families Supergrass Kyle Gallner would no longer just accept Kate Thornton that,” Captain Mallak said. The examiner’s Flavia Cacace office has not publicized the autopsy Jacqueline Bisset policy and has not often discussed Lucia Moniz it. Families are informed that autopsies are being performed and that they can request a copy of Green Day the report. Occasionally, families object, but the autopsy is Lily Donaldson done anyway. About 85 percent to 90 percent of families request the reports, and 10 percent also ask Jang Jin Young for photographs from the autopsy, said Paul Stone, a spokesman for the medical examiner system. Relatives are also told they can call or e-mail the medical Sam Golzari examiners with questions.

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