Postmortem whole-body magnetic resonance imaging as an adjunct to autopsy: preliminary clinical experience

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2001 Feb;13(2):277-87. doi: 10.1002/1522-2586(200102)13:2<277::aid-jmri1040>;2-w.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of cadavers as an adjunct to autopsy. Eight consecutive patients underwent both whole-body MRI and autopsy [either conventional (six), limited (one), or percutaneous (one)] within 24 hours of death. Comparison was made of major and minor abnormalities and predicted cause of death recorded by independent readers at both MRI and autopsy. Major discrepancies between the recorded primary cause of death at imaging and autopsy occurred in five (5) patients. These included a myocardial infarction found at autopsy alone, bowel infarction and portal venous gas found at MRI alone, and aortic dissection and occipital infarct found at MRI alone in a patient on whom only limited autopsy was performed. Postmortem MRI may represent a useful adjunct to autopsy, particularly in patients in whom autopsy is limited due to patient/family consent, inoculation risks, and ethnic doctrines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Autopsy*
  • Cause of Death
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity