Human pathology

Contrast-enhanced postmortem computed tomography in clinical pathology: enhanced value of 20 clinical autopsies.

PMID 25033728


Postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) is a modern tool that complements autopsy diagnostics. In clinical autopsies, a major cause of death is cardiovascular disease. To improve the performance of PMCT in cardiovascular disease, full body angiography was developed (PMCT angiography [PMCTA]). Twenty PMCTA scans generated before autopsy were compared with native PMCT and clinical autopsy. The objective of the study was to quantify the additional diagnostic value of adding angiography to native imaging and to compare PMCT and PMCTA findings to autopsy findings. The diagnosis of the cause of death was identical or overlapped in 80% of the cases that used PMCTA and 70% that used PMCT. The additional diagnostic yield given by PMCT and PMCTA in combination with autopsy was 55%. PMCT yielded additional diagnoses in the musculoskeletal system. The greatest additional diagnostic value of PMCTA was in association with cardiovascular diagnoses. The accuracy of PMCTA for cardiac causes of death was 80%, and the positive predictive value was 90%. The findings indicate that native PMCT cannot display the cardiovascular system sufficiently clearly for high-quality diagnostic assessment. However, PMCTA is a powerful tool in autopsy cases with a history of cardiovascular disease and/or a suspected cardiovascular cause of death. The combination of PMCTA and clinical autopsy enhances diagnostic quality and completeness of the autopsy report. Furthermore, in cases without consent or with a restricted consent for clinical autopsy, PMCTA has the potential to provide information on cardiovascular causes of death.