Forensic postmortem computed tomography: volumetric measurement of the heart and liver

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology, Springer Nature, ISSN 1556-2891

Volume 12, 4, 2016

DOI:10.1007/s12024-016-9810-0, Dimensions: pub.1035128175, PMID: 27677633,



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the utility of postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) images in estimating organ sizes and to examine the use of the cardiothoracic ratio (CTR). METHODS: We included 45 individuals (19 females), who underwent a medico-legal autopsy. Using the computer software program Mimics®, we determined in situ heart and liver volumes derived from linear measurements (width, height and depth) on a whole body PMCT-scan, and compared the volumes with ex vivo volumes derived by CT-scan of the eviscerated heart and liver. The ex vivo volumes were also compared with the organ weights. Further, we compared the CTR with the ex vivo heart volume and a heart weight-ratio (HWR). Intra- and inter-observer analyses were performed. RESULTS: We found no correlation between the in situ and ex vivo volumes of the heart and liver. However, a highly significant correlation was found between the ex vivo volumes and weights of the heart and liver. No correlations between CTR and the ex vivo heart volume nor with HWR was found. Concerning cardiomegaly, we found no agreement between the CTR and HWR. The intra- and inter-observer analyses showed no significant differences. CONCLUSIONS: Noninvasive in situ PMCT methods for organ measuring, as performed in this study, are not useful tools in forensic pathology. The best method to estimate organ volume is a CT-scan of the eviscerated organ. PMCT-determined CTR seems to be useless for ascertaining cardiomegaly, as it neither correlated with the ex vivo heart volume nor with the HWR.

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