La radiologia medica

, Volume 118, Issue 4, pp 679–687 | Cite as

Virtual autopsy using multislice computed tomography in forensic medical diagnosis of drowning

  • M. C. AmbrosettiEmail author
  • C. Barbiani
  • G. El-Dalati
  • E. Pellini
  • D. Raniero
  • A. De Salvia
  • R. Pozzi Mucelli
Ethics and Forensic Radiology / Etica e Radiologia Forense



This study evaluated the usefulness of multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) in the postmortem diagnosis of death by drowning in fresh water by measuring the difference of blood density within the cardiac chambers.

Materials and methods

Twenty-two corpses including six cases of fresh-water drowning (group A) and 16 deaths by other causes (group B), among which were also different forms of mechanical asphyxia other than drowning, underwent MDCT and conventional autopsy. Blood density within the right and left heart chambers, the aorta and the pulmonary trunk was measured and values compared between groups and within each group between heart chambers.


Blood density in all cardiac chambers was lower in group A than in group B. The difference was statistically significant within the left atrium and ventricle and was significantly lower in the left than in the right heart chambers in group A only.


MDCT, together with conventional autopsy, may contribute to the diagnosis of drowning, by measuring blood density in the heart chambers.


Multi detector row computed tomography Virtual autopsy Drowning 

Autopsia virtuale mediante tomografia computerizzata multistrato nella diagnosi medico-forense di annegamento



Valutare se l’impiego della tomografia computerizzata multistrato (TCMS) possa essere d’aiuto nella diagnosi di morte per annegamento in acqua dolce tramite misura della differenza di concentrazione ematica all’interno delle camere cardiache.

Materiali e metodi

Sono stati sottoposti a TCMS ed esame autoptico convenzionale 22 cadaveri, di cui 6 morti per annegamento in acqua dolce (gruppo A) e 16 per altre cause (gruppo B), tra le quali erano presenti anche asfissie meccaniche diverse dall’annegamento. è stata misurata la densità del sangue all’interno delle camere cardiache di destra e sinistra, dell’aorta e del tronco polmonare e confrontati i valori tra i due gruppi e all’interno di ogni gruppo tra le camere cardiache.


La densità ematica all’interno di tutte le camere cardiache è risultata inferiore nel gruppo A rispetto al gruppo B. La differenza è risultata statisticamente significativa all’interno di atrio e ventricolo di sinistra. La densità ematica è risultata significativamente inferiore nelle camere cardiache di sinistra rispetto quelle di destra solo nel gruppo A.


La TCMS può essere impiegata per la misura della densità ematica nelle camere cardiache per la diagnosi di morte da annegamento in acqua dolce in ausilio all’esame autoptico convenzionale.

Parole chiave

Tomografia computerizzata multistrato Autopsia virtuale Annegamento 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Ambrosetti
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Barbiani
    • 1
  • G. El-Dalati
    • 1
  • E. Pellini
    • 2
  • D. Raniero
    • 2
  • A. De Salvia
    • 2
  • R. Pozzi Mucelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di RadiologiaUniversità di VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Sezione di Medicina Legale-DSPMCUniversità di VeronaVeronaItaly

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