- 1 CAS in Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy: Module III – Virtopsy Practical Course and Casebook
- 1.1 Course definition
- 1.2 Curriculum of CAS Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy
- 1.3 Program and registration
- 1.4 Materials for PMCTA / set replacement parts
- 1.5 How to make a CAS casebook (50 cases)
- 1.6 Reporting forensic PMCT cases
- 1.7 Cost
- 1.8 Administrative contact
- 1.9 Course director
- 1.10 Course coordinator
- 1.11 Upcoming courses, program and registration
- 2 Past courses
CAS in Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy: Module III – Virtopsy Practical Course and Casebook
We offer training so that participants can achieve a Certificate of Advanced Studies in the field of Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy. The title is then issued by the University of Zurich. The CAS in Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy of the University of Zürich, Switzerland, currently is the only public University degree in Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy that is offered for non-profit.
Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy contains the subject field of Virtopsy, that is, medicolegal imaging methods, including postmortem computed tomography (PMCT), but also covering post mortem angiography, post mortem magnetic resonance imaging (PMMRI), methods for photographic and geometric 3D surface capturing and Virtopsy aspects of clinical forensic medicine.
The last decade has seen an unprecedented increase in the adoption of these techniques in the field of forensic pathology. Also, clinical forensic medicine increasingly bases expert opinions also on clinical imaging data and their interpretation. With that, the content provides relevant up-to-date training for forensic radiology / forensic radiologists, for forensic pathology / forensic pathologists and for experts in associated fields.
The course director and organizers are members of the International Society of Forensic Radiology and Imaging (ISFRI). The ISFRI also works towards coordination across best practices, education, research, quality standards, certification as well as providing a journal for the members of the society, the Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging.
Graduates of the full CAS Virtopsy will be awarded a total of 10 ECTS points with 30 hours for each point, thus equating 300 hours of learning. Requirements to be met are attendance of the course modules I and II and passing of the assessments there (both modules) (2 ECTS), the attendance of module III that contains the provision of practical project work (3 ECTS), and providing documentation for one real case in our institute under our supervision (1 ECTS). Last but not the least, a case book has to be submitted documenting 50 post mortem cases (4 ECTS),
Details are outlined in Regulations Governing the Continuing Education Program CAS in Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland [pdf].
The Institute of Forensic Medicine of the University of Zurich offers as a postgraduate forensic University degree the CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) in Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy.
The total days of actual presence required at our institutes is 5 days (for modules I and II formerly called Virtopsy Course, which is an integral part of the CAS, or a requirement) and roughly another 5 days for further course work (module III).
In addition, a case book that the participants will prepare off-site (for example, at their own workplace) has to be submitted to the CAS course coordinator. It is suggested to provide and contain 50 (fifty) single case studies from the own caseload of participants. The deadlines to submit the casebooks are given below.
The CAS provides theoretical knowledge of forensic imaging, notably surface scanning and 3D-photogrammetry, post-mortem CT and MR, post-mortem angiography, robot-guided biopsy, and clinical forensic imaging.
Practical skills are taught in post mortem CT reading and report preparation, post mortem CT angiography and 3D surface documentation.
While PMCT and PMCTA are widely published scanning methods, we are convinced that there is a particular approach to this to make it work for daily forensic casework.
To help course participants to get the necessary traction, we, therefore, identified thorough PMCT reading, effective comprehensive written and graphical reporting, practically performing a PMCTA (post mortem CT angiography), and being able to practically perform 3D photogrammetry as key content.
Participants will be guided and taught through a set of cases and findings. They will learn and perform image reports both written and graphical. And there will be a practical PMCTA workshop with a newly developed very affordable PMCTA kit that contains all necessary materials for anyone to perform a PMCTA. Every participant will be equipped with such a kit.
Students of the CAS Virtopsy are expected to have a Master’s degree in medicine from an accredited university and certification as a specialist in forensic medicine or radiology. In exceptional cases, persons with a Bachelor’s degree in a medical field from an accredited university and several years of work experience in radiology, or persons with an equivalent qualification may be admitted to the program.
Technical / skill requirements
You may feel overwhelmed with this course, as it requires significantly more than the modules I and II of the CAS Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy.
- Proficient use of a computer (mouse, keyboard; Word, Powerpoint) as using software is a predominant substrate in imaging generally and in post mortem imaging specifically.
- English language skills that are sufficient to both understand others and express oneself both orally and in writing in an international setting.
Curriculum of CAS Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy
The CAS in Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy contains three modules.
The first two modules are the classical Virtopsy Courses Basic and Advanced. They convey theory and a small amount of practical workshop work with case data. We now expanded the choice of courses towards the completion of a university CAS title. For that, the Virtopsy Practical Course (plus Casebook) was created to fill needs for many participants in relevant aspects of forensic post mortem imaging.
- The course modules I, II and III are compulsory parts for the certificate of the University of Zurich; these are awarded ECTS points by the University of Zurich that count towards the CAS Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy
- The Virtopsy Pre-Course is a facultative module that allows participants to increase their software use proficiency. We created this as a service to participants that are not too fluent in using CT viewing software and that would like to improve their software use skills. It, therefore, is not a part of what the University of Zurich considers to be part of the actual forensic imaging certificate course. After all, there are plenty of course participants that are well versed in using CT viewing software and in no need for extra training.
- We regularly apply for EACCME accreditation. Depending on the specific time schedule of the course, each course part (pre-course, as well as CAS-modules 1,2,3) is awarded a number of CME points. In 2019, the pre-course was awarded 6 CME points, the module I was granted 13 CME credits, module II was granted 19 CME credits and for the module III, 28 CME points were granted.
- We also apply for ISFRI accreditation. In 2019, we received preliminary information that a 2018 application was approved.
|Course part / module||Virtopsy Pre-Course|
(not a module)
|Virtopsy Basic Course|
|Virtopsy Advanced Course|
|Virtopsy Practical Course
|ECTS, CME||0 ECTS; |
2019: 6 CME credits
|1 ECTS; |
2019: 13 CME credits
|1 ECTS; |
2019: 19 CME credits
2019: 28 CME credits
|Requirements||no particular requirements||attendance of this module,|
|attendance and passing of prior module,|
attendance of this module,
|attendance and passing of prior modules, writing/assembling casebook (casebook instructions 2018), pass assignments, pass requirements, complete a casebook of 50 cases|
|Certificate||Certificate of Attendance (pre-course completed)||Certificate of Attendance (basic course completed)||Certificate of Attendance (advanced course completed)||Certificate of Attendance (practical course completed)
Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy by the University of Zurich, Switzerland (once all modules including casebook are complete)
|Cost||300 CHF for attendants of module I (or attendants of more modules)|
650 CHF for attendants that do not take module I
|1000 CHF||1500 CHF||5500 CHF|
|Registration||click here||click here||click here||click here|
|Information||For more information and for registration please contact firstname.lastname@example.org||For more information and for registration please contact email@example.com||For more information and for registration please contact firstname.lastname@example.org||For more information and for registration please contact email@example.com|
Program and registration
The schedule for module III has been established as follows:
- The course flyer with an overview of the program is here.
- The detailed program and curriculum will be distributed to CAS participants directly.
- For registration click here.
- For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Materials for PMCTA / set replacement parts
How to make a CAS casebook (50 cases)
The CAS for Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy requires you to prepare a casebook containing 50 case studies. Based on both our own case-based experience and scientific studies into the effect of written and depicted reporting, we are convinced that PMCT evidence needs to be presented carefully to the attorneys or authorities that authorize you to perform a forensic PMCT on a body. The suggestions we make for your casebook base on our experience and insights. Preparing the CAS Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy casebook may allow you to practice the preparation of PMCT evidence in a way that also authorities and courts can follow your descriptions.
- Make it a somewhat wide choice of forms of violence or trauma, and focus on positive findings
- 1 page per case is sufficient, >5 pages per case probably a bit much
- Images if necessary with support for orientation, i.e., small navigator overview or labels (i.e., left, right, ..)
- Labels/arrows to all findings that you provide written text/captions for, figure captions both descriptive and with meaningful interpretation or diagnosis
- Skeletal injury AND Vital reactions if applicable
- Conclusion / interpretation / what you think it is
Reporting forensic PMCT cases
While we teach and mostly use straightforward tools (such as Microsoft Word and Powerpoint) to generate our written and visual reports, reports can have many forms.
Some are quick and dirty, where visually messy output is made by sloppily designed procedures, some are exhausting to achieve and perfected in their appearance.
The true art, however, consists in achieving perfect appearances very fast. The system that allows the user to use fewer mouse clicks, fewer key presses and less time to provide a better layout, and more thoroughly grammar checked the text, will win.
The manually optimized solution are commercial text- and image layout processing products; one stands on the shoulders of giants there: their optimization has been approximated through many, many software revisions (as examples, Microsoft Word has seen revision changes since 1983, that is, for around 35 years; Microsoft Powerpoint has been repeatedly revised since 1987, that is over 30 years, so in terms of pure manipulation efficiency, these are a hard act to follow). However, parameter-driven report generation may be interesting as an alternative, where one may work towards fully scripted, variable and ultimately database-driven report designs, where text, images, and captions obtain a perfected print layout without manual interference with the actual nudging, placement or alignment steps that often are so time-consuming. When using LaTeX possibly as middleware, the quality of the typesetting and postscript layout can be maximized in such a way – also because LaTeX has been repeatedly revised and improved since 1985, that is, 33 years.
Whatever the concise solution one chooses, the principles of forensic PMCT reporting remain the same – the client will require all relevant information, in an understandable and concise but not too abbreviated fashion.
Overview over a LaTeX template-based report with automated layout:
Links to some online-form check-list type assistance and an article to help to understand the issues:
- Short Form (English)
- Long Form (English)
- Article about a check-list approach to structured reporting
Modules I, II and III: All compulsory modules together: CHF 8’000.-, including registration, exam fees, and course material; excluding travel and accommodation costs.
Pre-course: Facultative software / 3D visualization module: CHF 300.-, including registration, exam fees and course material for participants of module 1 (or, 1 and 2, or, 1 and 2 and 3); cost of the Virtopsy Pre-Course is CHF 650 for participants that do not participate in any CAS Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy course modules.
University of Zurich, Institute of Forensic Medicine
Virtopsy Course Administration
+41 (0)44 635 56 11
Prof. Dr. med. Michael Thali, Exec MBA, Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich.
Dr. med. Wolf Schweitzer, Forensic pathologist at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich.
Upcoming courses, program and registration
| 18th Virtopsy Course / 5th CAS Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy: March (12th)15th to 25th, 2021
|19th Virtopsy Course / 5th CAS Forensic Imaging & Virtopsy: March (12th)15th to 25th, 2022
- March 20th-30th (Modules I-III)
- Deadlines for casebook submission I: 30th June 2017, II: 31st December 2017; III: 30th March 2018, IV: 30th June 2019.
- March 19th-29th (Modules I-III)
- Deadlines for casebook submission I: 30th June 2018, II: 31st December 2018; III: 30th March 2019 (1 year after course end), IV: June 30th 2019.
- March 15th (Pre-Course) / March 18th-28th (Modules I-III)
- Deadlines for casebook submission I: 30th June 2019, II: 31st December 2019; III: 28th March 2020 (1 year after the course end), IV: June 30th 2020.
- March 13th (Pre-Course) / March 16th-26th (Modules I-III)
- Deadlines for casebook submission I: 30th June 2020, II: 31st December 2020; III: 28th March 2021 (1 year after the course end), IV: June 30th 2021.