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15.06.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2017

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology 3/2017

Accuracy of non-contrast PMCT for determining cause of death

Zeitschrift:
Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology > Ausgabe 3/2017
Autoren:
Garyfalia Ampanozi, Yannick A. Thali, Wolf Schweitzer, Gary M. Hatch, Lars C. Ebert, Michael J. Thali, Thomas D. Ruder

Abstract

The aim of this study was (1) to compare levels of accuracy regarding the categorization of causes of death between non-contrast post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) and the final forensic report as well as between autopsy and the final forensic report, and (2) to assess levels of confidence regarding the categorization of causes of death after non-contrast PMCT and after autopsy. This prospective study was conducted over a 5 month period during which 221 cases were admitted to our institute for forensic investigations. Whole-body PMCT and forensic autopsy were performed in every case. Of these, 101 cases were included in the final study population. Inclusion criteria were: (1) age > 18 years, (2) presence of at least one of the two principal investigators at the time of admission. One radiologist and one forensic pathologist independently read all PMCT datasets using a report template. Cause of death category and confidence levels were determined by consensus. Forensic autopsy was performed by two forensic pathologists; both unblinded to imaging results. Both post-imaging and post-autopsy cause of death categorization were compared against the final cause of death, as stated in the forensic expert report, which included findings from histology and/or toxicology. Accuracy of post-imaging cause of death categorization in reference to the final cause of death category was substantial (82%, 83/101 cases, Kappa 0.752). Accuracy of post-autopsy cause of death categorization in reference to the final cause of death category was near perfect (89%, 90/101 cases, Kappa 0.852). Post-imaging sensitivity and specificity regarding the categorization of causes of death were 82% and 97%, respectively. Post-autopsy sensitivity and specificity regarding the categorization of causes of death were 89% and 98%, respectively. There was a high consistency between the accuracy of post-imaging cause of death categorization and post-imaging levels of confidence. There was less consistency between accuracy of post-autopsy cause of death categorization and post-autopsy levels of confidence. In this study categorization of causes of death based on non-contrast enhanced PMCT alone, and on PMCT and macroscopic autopsy together, proved to be consistent with the final cause of death-category as determined based on all available information including PMCT, autopsy, and (if available) histology and/or toxicology in more than 82% and 89% of all cases, respectively. There was higher consistency between levels of confidence and accuracy of causes of death categorization was higher post-imaging than post-autopsy. These results underline the fact that the diagnostic potential of PMCT goes beyond the assessment of trauma cases.

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