European Radiology

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1829–1835

Post-mortem computed tomography compared to forensic autopsy findings: a French experience

Authors

    • Department of Forensic MedicineRouen University Hospital
  • Sophie Thureau
    • Department of Forensic MedicineRouen University Hospital
  • Cathia Duval
    • Department of RadiologyRouen University Hospital
  • Frédérique Papin-Lefebvre
    • Department of Forensic MedicineCaen University Hospital
  • Jacques Thiebot
    • Department of RadiologyRouen University Hospital
  • Jean Nicolas Dacher
    • Department of RadiologyRouen University Hospital
  • Cyril Gricourt
    • Department of Forensic MedicineRouen University Hospital
  • Emmanuel Touré
    • Department of Forensic MedicineRouen University Hospital
  • Bernard Proust
    • Department of Forensic MedicineRouen University Hospital
Computed Tomography

DOI: 10.1007/s00330-013-2779-0

Cite this article as:
Le Blanc-Louvry, I., Thureau, S., Duval, C. et al. Eur Radiol (2013) 23: 1829. doi:10.1007/s00330-013-2779-0

Abstract

Objectives

The principal aim of our study was to establish concordance between post-mortem CT (PMCT) and forensic standard autopsy (SA) in detecting lesions according to different anatomical regions. A secondary aim was to determine the efficacy of PMCT in showing lethal lesions.

Methods

PMCTs were compared with autopsies in 236 cadavers in different contexts of death. PMCT findings were assessed by two independent radiologists.

Results

Concordance between PMCT and autopsy was almost perfect in showing skull, basal skull and hyoid bone fractures as well as in detecting facial, vertebral or pelvic fractures. Both examinations were discordant in demonstrating some intracranial injuries, vascular or organ wounds (more findings showed by autopsy), as well in showing free air in anatomical cavities (more findings detected by PMCT). Moreover, PMCT was effective in determining lethal lesions in the context of craniofacial trauma or after a gunshot wound. Concordance between the findings of the two radiologists was almost perfect for each type of lesion.

Conclusion

PMCT could be considered as effective as SA in determining the cause of death in certain traumatic events. It was also effective in showing lethal lesions and could be a useful tool in reducing the number of SA.

Key Points

Post-mortem CT is increasingly performed as an alternative/adjunct to formal autopsy.

More modern CT systems provide greater anatomical scope.

PMCT can usually determine the cause of most deaths following trauma.

Prospective studies are still required to establish an algorithm for forensic CT.

Keywords

Post-mortem CT Autopsy Cause of death Prospective studies Diagnostic tool

Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2013