The craniotomy box: an innovative method of containing hazardous aerosols generated during skull saw use in autopsy on a COVID-19 body.Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2020 09; 16(3):477-480.FS
During a disease pandemic, there is still a requirement to perform postmortem examinations within the context of legal considerations. The management of the dead from COVID-19 should not impede the medicolegal investigation of the death where required by the authorities and legislation but additional health and safety precautions should be adopted for the necessary postmortem procedures. The authors have therefore used the craniotomy box in an innovative way to enable a safe alternative for skull and brain removal procedures on suspected or confirmed COVID-19 bodies. The craniotomy box technique was tested on a confirmed COVID-19 positive body where a full postmortem examination was performed by a team of highly trained personnel in a negative pressure Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) autopsy suite in the National Institute of Forensic Medicine (IPFN) Malaysia. This craniotomy box is a custom-made transparent plastic box with five walls but without a floor. Two circular holes were made in one wall for the placement of arms in order to perform the skull opening procedure. A swab to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was taken from the interior surface of the craniotomy box after the procedure. The result from the test using real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) proved that an additional barrier provided respiratory protection by containing the aerosols generated from the skull opening procedure. This innovation ensures procedures performed inside this craniotomy box are safe for postmortem personnel performing high risk autopsies during pandemics.