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Postmortem imaging findings and cause of death determination compared with autopsy: a systematic review of diagnostic test accuracy and meta-analysis


Ampanozi, Garyfalia; Halbheer, Delaja; Ebert, Lars C; Thali, Michael J; Held, Ulrike (2020). Postmortem imaging findings and cause of death determination compared with autopsy: a systematic review of diagnostic test accuracy and meta-analysis. International journal of legal medicine, 134(1):321-337.

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of postmortem computed tomography (PMCT), postmortem magnetic resonance imaging (PMMR) and PMCT angiography (PMCTA) compared with autopsy in cases of adult death investigations.
Methods: For this systematic review and meta-analysis, Embase, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Medline were searched for eligible studies in October 2016; a follow-up literature search was conducted in March 2018. Studies referring to PMCT, PMCTA and/or PMMR of more than 3 cases with subsequent autopsy were included. Data were extracted from published texts in duplicate. The extracted outcomes were categorized as follows: soft tissue and organ findings, skeletal injuries, haemorrhages, abnormal gas accumulations and causes of death. The summary measure was sensitivity, if 3 or more studies were available. To combine studies, a random effects model was used. Variability and heterogeneity within the meta-analysis was assessed.
Results: Of 1053 studies, 66 were eligible, encompassing a total of 4213 individuals. For soft tissue and organ findings, there was a high pooled sensitivity with PMCTA (0.91, 95% CI 0.81 –0.96), without evidence for between-study variability (Cochrane’s Q test p=0.331, $I^2$ = 24.5%). The pooled sensitivity of PMCT+PMMR was very high in skeletal injuries (0.97, CI 0.87–0.99), without evidence for variability (p=0.857, $I^2$ = 0.0%). In detecting haemorrhages, the pooled sensitivity for PMCT+PMMR was the highest (0.88, 95% CI 0.35–0.99), with strong evidence of heterogeneity (p<0.05, $I^2$ > 50%). Pooled sensitivity for the correct cause of death was the highest for PMCTA with 0.79 (95% CI 0.52–0.93), again with evidence of heterogeneity (p=0.062, $I^2$ >50%).
Conclusion: Distinct postmortem imaging modalities can achieve high sensitivities for detecting various findings and causes of death. This knowledge should lead to a reasoned use of each modality. Both forensic evidence and in-hospital medical quality would be enhanced.

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of postmortem computed tomography (PMCT), postmortem magnetic resonance imaging (PMMR) and PMCT angiography (PMCTA) compared with autopsy in cases of adult death investigations.
Methods: For this systematic review and meta-analysis, Embase, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Medline were searched for eligible studies in October 2016; a follow-up literature search was conducted in March 2018. Studies referring to PMCT, PMCTA and/or PMMR of more than 3 cases with subsequent autopsy were included. Data were extracted from published texts in duplicate. The extracted outcomes were categorized as follows: soft tissue and organ findings, skeletal injuries, haemorrhages, abnormal gas accumulations and causes of death. The summary measure was sensitivity, if 3 or more studies were available. To combine studies, a random effects model was used. Variability and heterogeneity within the meta-analysis was assessed.
Results: Of 1053 studies, 66 were eligible, encompassing a total of 4213 individuals. For soft tissue and organ findings, there was a high pooled sensitivity with PMCTA (0.91, 95% CI 0.81 –0.96), without evidence for between-study variability (Cochrane’s Q test p=0.331, $I^2$ = 24.5%). The pooled sensitivity of PMCT+PMMR was very high in skeletal injuries (0.97, CI 0.87–0.99), without evidence for variability (p=0.857, $I^2$ = 0.0%). In detecting haemorrhages, the pooled sensitivity for PMCT+PMMR was the highest (0.88, 95% CI 0.35–0.99), with strong evidence of heterogeneity (p<0.05, $I^2$ > 50%). Pooled sensitivity for the correct cause of death was the highest for PMCTA with 0.79 (95% CI 0.52–0.93), again with evidence of heterogeneity (p=0.062, $I^2$ >50%).
Conclusion: Distinct postmortem imaging modalities can achieve high sensitivities for detecting various findings and causes of death. This knowledge should lead to a reasoned use of each modality. Both forensic evidence and in-hospital medical quality would be enhanced.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:510 Mathematics
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords:Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 January 2020
Deposited On:16 Dec 2019 11:38
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 21:09
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0937-9827
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-019-02140-y
PubMed ID:31455980

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