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Postmortem ventilation: a new method for improved detection of pulmonary pathologies in forensic imaging


Germerott, Tanja; Flach, Patricia M; Preiss, Ulrich S; Ross, Steffen G; Thali, Michael J (2012). Postmortem ventilation: a new method for improved detection of pulmonary pathologies in forensic imaging. Legal Medicine, 14(5):223-228.

Abstract

Postmortem imaging has gained prominence in the field of forensic pathology. Even with experience in this procedure, difficulties arise in evaluating pathologies of the postmortem lung. The effect of postmortem ventilation with applied pressures of 10, 20, 30 and 40 mbar was evaluated in 10 corpses using simultaneous postmortem computed tomography (pmCT) scans. Ventilation was performed via a continuous positive airway pressure mask (n=5), an endotracheal tube (n=4) and a laryngeal mask (n=1) using a portable home care ventilator. The lung volumes were measured and evaluated by a segmentation technique based on reconstructed CT data. The resulting changes to the lungs were analyzed. Postmortem ventilation at 40 mbar induced a significant (p<0.05) unfolding of the lungs, with a mean volume increase of 1.32 l. Small pathologies of the lung such as scarring and pulmonary nodules as well as emphysema were revealed, while inner livores were reduced. Even though lower ventilation pressures resulted in a significant (p<0.05) volume increase, pathologies were best evaluated when a pressure of 40 mbar was applied, due to the greater reduction of the inner livores. With the ventilation-induced expansion of the lungs, a decrease in the heart diameter and gaseous distension of the stomach was recognized. In conclusion, postmortem ventilation is a feasible method for improving evaluation of the lungs and detection of small lung pathologies. This is because of the volume increase in the air-filled portions of the lung and reduced appearance of inner livores.

Postmortem imaging has gained prominence in the field of forensic pathology. Even with experience in this procedure, difficulties arise in evaluating pathologies of the postmortem lung. The effect of postmortem ventilation with applied pressures of 10, 20, 30 and 40 mbar was evaluated in 10 corpses using simultaneous postmortem computed tomography (pmCT) scans. Ventilation was performed via a continuous positive airway pressure mask (n=5), an endotracheal tube (n=4) and a laryngeal mask (n=1) using a portable home care ventilator. The lung volumes were measured and evaluated by a segmentation technique based on reconstructed CT data. The resulting changes to the lungs were analyzed. Postmortem ventilation at 40 mbar induced a significant (p<0.05) unfolding of the lungs, with a mean volume increase of 1.32 l. Small pathologies of the lung such as scarring and pulmonary nodules as well as emphysema were revealed, while inner livores were reduced. Even though lower ventilation pressures resulted in a significant (p<0.05) volume increase, pathologies were best evaluated when a pressure of 40 mbar was applied, due to the greater reduction of the inner livores. With the ventilation-induced expansion of the lungs, a decrease in the heart diameter and gaseous distension of the stomach was recognized. In conclusion, postmortem ventilation is a feasible method for improving evaluation of the lungs and detection of small lung pathologies. This is because of the volume increase in the air-filled portions of the lung and reduced appearance of inner livores.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:20 Sep 2012 12:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:57
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1344-6223
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.legalmed.2012.03.003
PubMed ID:22546246
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-64734

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