Common Postmortem Computed Tomography Findings Following Atraumatic Death: Differentiation between Normal Postmortem Changes and Pathologic Lesions

Korean J Radiol. Jul-Aug 2015;16(4):798-809. doi: 10.3348/kjr.2015.16.4.798. Epub 2015 Jul 1.


Computed tomography (CT) is widely used in postmortem investigations as an adjunct to the traditional autopsy in forensic medicine. To date, several studies have described postmortem CT findings as being caused by normal postmortem changes. However, on interpretation, postmortem CT findings that are seemingly due to normal postmortem changes initially, may not have been mere postmortem artifacts. In this pictorial essay, we describe the common postmortem CT findings in cases of atraumatic in-hospital death and describe the diagnostic pitfalls of normal postmortem changes that can mimic real pathologic lesions.

Keywords: Autopsy imaging; Forensic radiology; Postmortem CT; Postmortem imaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autopsy / instrumentation
  • Autopsy / methods*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine / instrumentation
  • Forensic Medicine / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / diagnostic imaging
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*