Oklahoma researchers develop way to detect surgically implanted bombs

A device to detect explosives that have been surgically implanted into a person's body has been developed by an Edmond police detective and a University of Oklahoma assistant professor.
BY BEN LUSCHEN bluschen@opubco.com Modified: July 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm •  Published: July 6, 2012
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— A device to detect explosives that have been surgically implanted into a person's body has been developed by an Edmond police detective and a University of Oklahoma assistant professor.

The device uses X-rays to generate a negative image of the body and, potentially, the bomb inside it.

The initial challenge for researchers was learning if bomb squads could use an X-ray dosage high enough to pass though a human body and detect a hidden bomb without causing radiation poisoning or sickness. Research found that not only were these things possible, but they could be accomplished using equipment common to bomb squads across the country.

Marion Cain, a detective and bomb technician for the Edmond Police Department, came up with the idea for the project after attending a bomb technician recertification conference in Huntsville, Ala. While in a class, the subject of suicide bombing came up, specifically the use of X-ray scans to find bombs located underneath the skin. No one at the conference had ever attempted it.

“I thought to myself, ‘If no one's doing it, let's see if we can do it,'” Cain said.

Cain teamed up with Isaac Rutel, an assistant professor for the department of radiological sciences at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, in order to determine a proper X-ray dosage that could be used to detect a bomb threat. While researching, Rutel found it was possible to detect such devices using energy levels common in his field.

“We found them to be consistent with some fairly common types of routines you might see in medical imaging,” Rutel said.

How they did it

Cain and Rutel tested the process using cadavers donated to the cause by a state agency. Devices were attached to the cadavers, not implanted, and the bodies were placed in a variety of positions that bomb technicians could possibly encounter while in the field.

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