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Computerized Tomography Used as a Routine Procedure at Postmortem Investigations

Leth, Peter Mygind PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2009 - Volume 30 - Issue 3 - p 219-222
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318187e0af
Original Article

This is a prospective investigation of a consecutive series of 250 deceased individuals who were computerized tomography (CT)-scanned and autopsied. In 13% of patients, important findings at the CT-scanning were not found at the autopsy, and in 48% of patients, important autopsy findings were not found at the CT-scanning. The cause of death could be established by CT in 31%, by autopsy in 74%, and by toxicology in 22%. CT combined with data from the inquest could establish the cause of death in a majority of deaths due to severe trauma, but only in a minority of deaths caused by disease or poisoning. We found the Siemens Somatom Spirit dual-slice CT-scanner cost effective, quick, and well suited as a supplement to the routine autopsy. CT is useful in identifications, gunshot lesions, and traffic accidents. CT allows investigation of anatomic regions that are not easily available by autopsy and allows fractures and inner organs to be seen “in situ.” CT provides documentation in digital form – easily stored – permits review by others and provides pictures that may be more suitable for presentation in court than autopsy photos.

From the Department of Forensic Pathology, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Manuscript received October 12, 2007; accepted January 16, 2008.

The author would like to state that there are no competing financial interests involved in the production of this work.

Reprints: Peter Mygind Leth, PhD, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 17, DK-5000 Odense, Denmark. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.