Objective: We evaluated the postmortem changes of striated muscle by comparing computed tomography (CT) images obtained postmortem and antemortem in the same patients.
Materials and methods: We studied 33 consecutive patients who underwent antemortem CT, postmortem CT, and pathological autopsy in our tertiary care hospital between April 2009 and December 2010. Postmortem CT was performed within 20 h after death and was followed by pathological autopsy. Pathological autopsy confirmed the absence of muscular diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, myositis, and myasthenia, in all of the patients. The CT attenuation values of four cardiac muscle sites (anterior wall of the left ventricle, left ventricular free wall, posterior wall of the left ventricle, and the ventricular septum) and two skeletal muscle sites (the pectoralis major muscle and the erector spinae muscle) were compared between antemortem and postmortem CT using paired t test.
Results: Striated muscle had significantly greater attenuation on postmortem CT than on antemortem CT (P<0.001) in all six tissue sites. No significant association was found between postmortem change in the CT attenuation of striated muscle and gender, age, or elapsed time since death.
Conclusion: This is the first longitudinal study to show hyperattenuation of striated muscle on postmortem CT images compared with antemortem CT images in the same patients.