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Use of postmortem computed tomography to detect bowel obstruction and its relationship to the cause of death


Gascho, Dominic; Schaerli, Sarah; Tuchtan-Torrents, Lucile; Thali, Michael J; Gorincour, Guillaume (2018). Use of postmortem computed tomography to detect bowel obstruction and its relationship to the cause of death. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 39(1):30-37.

Abstract

Bowel distension frequently indicates bowel obstruction, which is a common diagnosis in clinical radiology. Typically, symptoms and complaints lead to radiological examinations and the detection of the etiology. Untreated intestinal obstructions can lead to a fatal outcome through cardiac failure due to septic shock. Certain of these cases undergo medicolegal investigations depending on the case history, the condition of the decedent, the location of the finding, or recent visits to medical professionals. Computed tomography (CT) is a recommended method in clinical radiology for the detection of bowel obstruction, which is indicated by bowel distension and further radiological signs (eg, the whirl sign, which indicates a volvulus). Postmortem CT (PMCT) has increased worldwide, but PMCT differs from clinical CT; thus, the question of whether PMCT is also reliable for the detection of bowel obstruction in decedents or is negatively affected by postmortem modifications should be discussed. This study consists of 10 cases displaying radiological signs of bowel obstruction. Apart from bowel distension, the most common radiological signs (whirl sign, coffee bean sign, bird beak sign, and u-shape sign) are described and depicted. All decedents underwent autopsy and had a postmortem interval of less than 72 hours. Based on these cases, we assess the reliability of PMCT for detecting bowel obstruction and determining its relationship to the cause of death.

Abstract

Bowel distension frequently indicates bowel obstruction, which is a common diagnosis in clinical radiology. Typically, symptoms and complaints lead to radiological examinations and the detection of the etiology. Untreated intestinal obstructions can lead to a fatal outcome through cardiac failure due to septic shock. Certain of these cases undergo medicolegal investigations depending on the case history, the condition of the decedent, the location of the finding, or recent visits to medical professionals. Computed tomography (CT) is a recommended method in clinical radiology for the detection of bowel obstruction, which is indicated by bowel distension and further radiological signs (eg, the whirl sign, which indicates a volvulus). Postmortem CT (PMCT) has increased worldwide, but PMCT differs from clinical CT; thus, the question of whether PMCT is also reliable for the detection of bowel obstruction in decedents or is negatively affected by postmortem modifications should be discussed. This study consists of 10 cases displaying radiological signs of bowel obstruction. Apart from bowel distension, the most common radiological signs (whirl sign, coffee bean sign, bird beak sign, and u-shape sign) are described and depicted. All decedents underwent autopsy and had a postmortem interval of less than 72 hours. Based on these cases, we assess the reliability of PMCT for detecting bowel obstruction and determining its relationship to the cause of death.

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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:2018
Deposited On:14 Dec 2017 14:49
Last Modified:20 Feb 2018 08:57
Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:0195-7910
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/PAF.0000000000000365
PubMed ID:29140803

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Embargo till: 2018-11-15