OBJECTIVE: To assess the temperature dependency of tissue contrast on post mortem magnetic resonance (PMMR) images both objectively and subjectively; and to visually demonstrate the changes of image contrast at various temperatures.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was approved by the responsible justice department and the ethics committee. The contrast of water, fat, and muscle was measured using regions of interest (ROI) in the orbit of 41 human corpses to assess how body temperature (range 2.1-39.8 °C) relates to image contrast of T1-weighted (T1W) and T2-weighted (T2W) sequences on PMMR. Regressions were calculated using the method of least squares. Three readers judged visible changes of image contrast subjectively by consensus.
RESULTS: There was a positive relationship between temperature and contrast on T1-weighted (T1W) images and between temperature and the contrast of fat/muscle on T2-weighted (T2W) images. There was a negative relationship between temperature and the contrast of water/fat and water/muscle on T2W images. Subjectively, the influence of temperature became visible below 20 °C on T2W images, and below 10 °C on T1W images.
CONCLUSION: Image contrast on PMMR depends on the temperature of a corpse. Radiologists involved in post mortem imaging must be aware of temperature-related changes in MR image contrast. To preserve technical quality, scanning corpses below 10 °C should be avoided.