The value of postmortem computed tomography as an alternative for autopsy in trauma victims: a systematic reviewReportar como inadecuado

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European Radiology

, Volume 19, Issue 10, pp 2333–2341

First Online: 21 May 2009Received: 25 November 2008Revised: 01 March 2009Accepted: 13 April 2009


The aim of this study was to assess the role of postmortem computed tomography PMCT as an alternative for autopsy in determining the cause of death and the identification of specific injuries in trauma victims. A systematic review was performed by searching the EMBASE and MEDLINE databases. Articles were eligible if they reported both PMCT as well as autopsy findings and included more than one trauma victim. Two reviewers independently assessed the eligibility and quality of the articles. The outcomes were described in terms of the percentage agreement on causes of death and amount of injuries detected. The data extraction and analysis were performed together. Fifteen studies were included describing 244 victims. The median sample size was 13 range 5–52. The percentage agreement on the cause of death between PMCT and autopsy varied between 46 and 100%. The overall amount of injuries detected on CT ranged from 53 to 100% compared with autopsy. Several studies suggested that PMCT was capable of identifying injuries not detected during normal autopsy. This systematic review provides inconsistent evidence as to whether PMCT is a reliable alternative for autopsy in trauma victims. PMCT has promising features in postmortem examination suggesting PMCT is a good alternative for a refused autopsy or a good adjunct to autopsy because it detects extra injuries overseen during autopsies. To examine the value of PMCT in trauma victims there is a need for well-designed and larger prospective studies.

KeywordsReview Postmortem CT Autopsy Trauma AbbreviationsCTcomputed tomography

PMCTpostmortem computed tomography

MRImagnetic resonance imaging

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Autor: M. Scholing - T. P. Saltzherr - P. H. P. Fung Kon Jin - K. J. Ponsen - J. B. Reitsma - J. S. Lameris - J. C. Gosling


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