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Leg Med (Tokyo). 2010 Sep;12(5):215-22. doi: 10.1016/j.legalmed.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 Jul 13.

Clinical radiology and postmortem imaging (Virtopsy) are not the same: Specific and unspecific postmortem signs.

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1
Department of Radiology, Inselspital, University of Bern, Freiburgstrasse, 3010 Bern, Switzerland. andreas.christe@insel.ch

Abstract

The aim of this article is to disclose the characteristics of postmortem forensic imaging; give an overview of the several possible findings in postmortem imaging, which are uncommon or new to clinical radiologists; and discuss the possible pitfalls. Unspecific postmortem signs are enlisted and specific signs shall be presented, which are typical for one cause of death. Unspecific signs. Livor mortis may not only be seen from the outside, but also inside the body in the lungs: in chest CT internal livor mortis appear as ground glass opacity in the dependent lower lobes. The aortic wall is often hyperdense in postmortem CT due to wall contraction and loss of luminal pressure. Gas bubbles are very common postmortem due to systemic gas embolism after major open trauma, artificial respiration or initial decomposition; in particular putrefaction produces gas bubbles globally. Specific signs. Intracranial bleeding is hyperattenuating both in radiology and in postmortem imaging. Signs of strangulation are hemorrhage in the soft tissue of the neck like skin, subcutaneous tissue, platysma muscle and lymph nodes. The "vanishing" aorta is indicative for exsanguination. Fluid in the airways with mosaic lung densities and emphysema (aquosum) is typical for fresh-water drowning.

PMID:
20630787
DOI:
10.1016/j.legalmed.2010.05.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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