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European Radiology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 283–290 | Cite as

Drowning—post-mortem imaging findings by computed tomography

  • Andreas ChristeEmail author
  • Emin Aghayev
  • Christian Jackowski
  • Michael J. Thali
  • Peter Vock
Forensic Medicine

Abstract

The aim of this study was to identify the classic autopsy signs of drowning in post-mortem multislice computed tomography (MSCT). Therefore, the post-mortem pre-autopsy MSCT- findings of ten drowning cases were correlated with autopsy and statistically compared with the post-mortem MSCT of 20 non-drowning cases. Fluid in the airways was present in all drowning cases. Central aspiration in either the trachea or the main bronchi was usually observed. Consecutive bronchospasm caused emphysema aquosum. Sixty percent of drowning cases showed a mosaic pattern of the lung parenchyma due to regions of hypo- and hyperperfused lung areas of aspiration. The resorption of fresh water in the lung resulted in hypodensity of the blood representing haemodilution and possible heart failure. Swallowed water distended the stomach and duodenum; and inflow of water filled the paranasal sinuses (100%). All the typical findings of drowning, except Paltau’s spots, were detected using post-mortem MSCT, and a good correlation of MSCT and autopsy was found. The advantage of MSCT was the direct detection of bronchospasm, haemodilution and water in the paranasal sinus, which is rather complicated or impossible at the classical autopsy.

Keywords

Virtopsy Drowning Post-mortem Multislice computed tomography 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Christe
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Emin Aghayev
    • 2
  • Christian Jackowski
    • 2
  • Michael J. Thali
    • 2
  • Peter Vock
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Diagnostic RadiologyUniversity HospitalBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Center Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy, Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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