Learning from the living to diagnose the dead – parallels between CT findings after survived drowning and fatal drowning

  • Cynthia Hourscht
  • Andreas Christe
  • Shane Diers
  • Michael J. Thali
  • Thomas D. RuderEmail author
Case Report


A case of survived drowning is presented where CT findings of the lungs were in keeping with several findings seen on post-mortem CT (PMCT) examination after fatal drowning. These findings include interlobular septal thickening, peribronichal cuffing, mosaic pattern ground glass opacities, and perivascular nodular ground glass opacities. The absence of confounding normal post-mortem changes allows for a discussion on subtle differences between findings related to aspiration and pulmonary edema after drowning. This case represents a learning opportunity for radiologists and pathologists challenged by the complex lung findings after drowning on PMCT.


Forensic radiology Computed tomography Drowning Aspiration Edema 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Approval by Ethical Committee is not required for case reports as single case descriptions do not fulfil the criteria of research as defined by the Human Research Act.

Informed consent

Patient information has been withheld and case details have been slightly modified (without changing their significance to the case report) to protect patient anonymity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Diagnostic, Interventional, and Pediatric RadiologyUniversity Hospital BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyTiefenauspitalBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Radiology, Northland District Health BoardWhangarei HospitalWhangareiNew Zealand
  4. 4.Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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