Hounsfield unit values of liver pathologies in unenhanced post-mortem computed tomography

Int J Legal Med. 2019 Nov;133(6):1861-1867. doi: 10.1007/s00414-019-02016-1. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Background: The goal of this study was to evaluate if unenhanced PMCT HU values of liver pathologies differ from post-mortem HU values of non-pathologic liver tissue.

Methods: Liver HU values were measured in five liver segments in PMCT unenhanced datasets of 214 forensic cases (124 male, 90 female, mean age 54.3 years). Liver HU values were compared with corresponding histologic liver findings. HU values of non-pathologic livers were compared to HU values of liver pathologies.

Results: A total of 64 non-pathologic livers (mean HU 58.32, SD 8.91) were assessed. Histologic diagnosed liver pathologies were as follows: steatosis (n = 121 (grade I n = 61, grade II n = 37, grade III n = 23)), fibrosis (n = 10), and cirrhosis (n = 19). HU values of the livers exhibiting severe steatosis (mean HU 32.44, SD 13.76), fibrosis (mean HU 44.7, SD 16.31), and cirrhosis (mean HU 50.59, SD 9.42) significantly differed to HU values of non-pathologic livers at ANOVA testing.

Conclusion: PMCT unenhanced liver HU value measurements may be used as an additional method to detect unspecific liver-pathology. Values below 30 HU may specifically indicate severe steatosis.

Keywords: Cirrhosis; Fibrosis; Hounsfield unit; Liver; Steatosis; Unenhanced post-mortem computed tomography.

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy
  • Cause of Death
  • Fatty Liver / classification
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology*
  • Female
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Whole Body Imaging