Application of photogrammetry in forensic pathology education of medical students in response to COVID-19

J Forensic Sci. 2021 Mar 25. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.14709. Online ahead of print.


As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic forced universities to switch to distance online education, there was an urgent need to find some virtual/digital alternatives in order to continue teaching. Opportunities such as watching pre-recorded autopsy videos or creating and analyzing post-mortem computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging with various 3D surface imaging techniques are usually time-consuming and cost-intensive. Photogrammetry, which allows the creation of 3D textured surface models from a series of overlapping photographs taken from varying viewpoints, is a less common approach compared with post-mortem imaging. We created 3D autopsy case models for a special online forensic pathology course in which students could try the models. Then, formal feedback was requested regarding the possible application of this method in education. Most of the students were satisfied with the new method and ranked photogrammetry higher than the other available methods. Our results indicate that photogrammetry has a high potential in undergraduate education, especially in the case of distance education or in those countries where declining autopsy rates have resulted in a decline in the use of the autopsy as an educational tool. Photogrammetry can also be used as a supplementary tool in traditional autopsy-based education and has potential applications in various fields of medical education.

Keywords: 3D documentation; COVID-19; autopsy; forensic pathology; medical school education; photogrammetry.