Heart Failure Reviews

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 651–665 | Cite as

Postmortem cardiac magnetic resonance in sudden cardiac death

  • Benedetta GuidiEmail author
  • Giovanni Donato Aquaro
  • Marco Gesi
  • Michele Emdin
  • Marco Di Paolo


Postmortem imaging is increasingly used in forensic practice as good complementary tool to conventional autopsy investigations. Over the last decade, postmortem cardiac magnetic resonance (PMCMR) imaging was introduced in forensic investigations of natural deaths related to cardiovascular diseases, which represent the most common causes of death in developed countries. Postmortem CMR application has yielded interesting results in ischemic myocardium injury investigations and in visualizing other pathological findings in the heart. This review presents the actual state of postmortem imaging for cardiovascular pathologies in cases of sudden cardiac death (SCD), taking into consideration both the advantages and limitations of PMCMR application.


Sudden cardiac death Postmortem imaging Postmortem cardiac magnetic resonance 



Cardiac magnetic resonance


Postmortem cardiac magnetic resonance


Postmortem magnetic resonance


Magnetic resonance


Postmortem magnetic resonance imaging


Postmortem computer tomography


Sudden cardiac death


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy


Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia


Cine steady-state free precession


Left ventricle


Right ventricle






Proton density


Fast spin echo


Extracellular volume


Echo times


Relaxation times


Magnetic resonance fingerprinting


Diffusion tensor imaging


Diffusion weighted imaging


International Society of Forensic Radiology and Imaging


American Heart Association


Coronary arteries disease


Short tau inversion–recovery


Cardiac amyloidosis


Light chain amyloidosis


Transthyretin amyloidosis


Authors’ contributions

BG developed review design and was one of the major contributors in manuscript writing. GDA developed review design, conducted PMCMR scans, led image analysis and data interpretation, and was one of the major contributors in writing the manuscript. MG was involved in manuscript writing. MDP and ME supervised the overall review, ensured quality control on image analysis and data interpretation, and supervised manuscript writing. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

The processing of the data reported in this paper is covered by the general authorization to process personal data for scientific research purposes granted by the Italian Data Protection Authority (1 March 2012 as published in Italy’s Official Journal no. 72 dated 26 March 2012) since the data do not entail any significant personalized impact on data subjects. Our study does not involve the application of experimental protocols; therefore, it does not require approval by an institutional and/or licensing committee. In all cases, local prosecutors opened an investigation, ordering that an autopsy be performed to clarify the exact cause of death

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benedetta Guidi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giovanni Donato Aquaro
    • 2
  • Marco Gesi
    • 1
  • Michele Emdin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marco Di Paolo
    • 4
  1. 1.Clinical and Translational Science Research DepartmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Fondazione Toscana G.MonasterioPisaItaly
  3. 3.Science of Life InstituteScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly
  4. 4.Legal Medicine SectionUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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