Radiation Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 493-502

Postmortem computed tomography for detecting causes of sudden death in infants and children: retrospective review of cases

  • Yuji OyakeAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Oyake Children's Clinic Email author 
  • , Takeshi AokiAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Tsukuba Medical Center
  • , Seiji ShiotaniAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Tsukuba Medical Center
  • , Mototsugu KohnoAffiliated withDepartment of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine, Tsukuba Medical Center
  • , Noriyoshi OhashiAffiliated withDepartment of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine, Tsukuba Medical Center
  • , Hiroyoshi AkutsuAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosurgery, Tsukuba Medical Center
  • , Kentaro YamazakiAffiliated withDepartment of Forensic Medicine, Tsukuba Medical Examiner's Office

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The aim of this study was to investigate the usefulness of postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) in detecting causes of sudden death in infants and children.

Materials and methods

Our subjects were 15 nontraumatically deceased patients (nine boys and six girls, ranging in age from 20 days after birth to 12 years old, mean age 1.6 years), who had been in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest on arrival at our hospital. PMCT was performed within 2 h after certification of death: head (15 cases), chest (11 cases), and abdomen (12 cases). Blood was collected from 11 of the patients at the time of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. An autopsy was conducted on two.


PMCT did not show any traumatic changes indicating child abuse. It was difficult to presume the cause of death with PMCT alone, but the cause of death in 14 of 15 cases could be presumed by combining information from their medical history, clinical course before death, PMCT findings, laboratory data, and bacterial culture. The remaining subject was classified as cause unknown.


The causes of sudden death in infants and children were detected at a high rate when we comprehensively investigated the PMCT and other examination findings.

Key words

Postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) Autopsy imaging Sudden infant death Forensic radiology