Indications, advantages and limitations of perinatal postmortem imaging in clinical practice

Pediatr Radiol. 2015 Apr;45(4):491-500. doi: 10.1007/s00247-014-3165-z. Epub 2014 Oct 2.


Just as there is a range of paediatric imaging techniques available during life, a similar repertoire is available as part of the foetal and perinatal postmortem examination. In this article, we review the literature regarding the diagnostic utility of postmortem radiography, US, CT and MRI in this clinical setting. There is limited direct evidence on the diagnostic utility of any of these techniques, apart from postmortem MRI, which when combined with other noninvasive investigations, has been shown to be highly sensitive and specific for many foetal postmortem diagnoses. The main disadvantages of postmortem MRI include the longer duration of imaging, the need for appropriate training in the interpretation of normal postmortem changes, and possible non-diagnostic imaging examinations in early gestation foetuses. As less-invasive autopsy becomes increasingly available, the true utility of these techniques will evolve, and clinical guidelines for maximal diagnostic yield can be developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Autopsy / methods*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • United States