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Radiology. 2009 Mar;250(3):897-904. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2503080421.

Minimally invasive autopsy: an alternative to conventional autopsy?

Author information

1
Department of Radiology, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, Dr Molewaterplein 40, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands. a.weustink@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To determine the diagnostic performance of minimally invasive autopsy (MIA) for detection of causes of death and to investigate the feasibility of MIA as an alternative to conventional autopsy (CA) in the clinical setting.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The institutional review board approved the MIA procedure and study, and informed consent was obtained for all deceased patients from relatives. Thirty deceased patients (19 men, 11 women; age range, 46-79 years), for whom family permission for CA on medical grounds had already been obtained, underwent additional evaluation with MIA prior to CA. MIA consisted of whole-body 16-section computed tomography (CT) and 1.5-T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, followed by ultrasonography-guided 12-gauge needle biopsy of heart, both lungs, liver, both kidneys, and spleen. Percentage agreement between MIA and CA on cause of death was evaluated. Sensitivity and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of MIA for detection of overall (major plus minor) findings, with CA as the reference standard, were calculated. Specificity was calculated for overall findings. Sensitivity analysis was performed to explore the effect of the clustered nature of the data.

RESULTS:

In 23 patients (77%), MIA and CA were in agreement on the cause of death. Sensitivity of MIA for detection of overall findings and detection of major findings was 93% (95% CI: 90%, 96%) and 94% (95% CI: 87%, 97%), respectively. Specificity was 99% (95% CI: 98%, 99%) for detection of overall findings. MIA failed to demonstrate acute myocardial infarction as the cause of death in four patients. Sensitivity analysis indicated a negligible correlation between observations within each patient. CT was superior to MR for detection of pneumothorax and calcifications. MR was superior to CT for detection of brain abnormalities and pulmonary embolus. With biopsy only, detection of disease in 55 organs was possible, which included 27 major findings.

CONCLUSION:

MIA is a feasible procedure with high diagnostic performance for detection of common causes of death such as pneumonia and sepsis; MIA failed to demonstrate cardiac diseases, such as acute myocardial infarction and endocarditis, as underlying cause of death.

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:

http://radiology.rsnajnls.org/cgi/content/full/250/3/897//DC1.

PMID:
19244053
DOI:
10.1148/radiol.2503080421
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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