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MRI detects hemorrhages in the muscles of the back in hypothermia

Forensic Science International
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2007.08.008
  • Virtopsy
  • Forensic Radiology
  • Autopsy Imaging
  • Post-Mortem
  • Hypothermia
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Criminology
  • Medicine


Abstract Morphological findings in death due to hypothermia are variable and predominantly unspecific. Goal of this study was to check the usefulness of post-mortem cross-sectional imaging methods in the diagnosis of externally invisible findings in death due to hypothermia. Three consecutive forensic cases that died due to hypothermia were examined using post-mortem multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) prior to autopsy. MSCT excluded traumatic skeletal and fatty tissue injury. Using MRI, it was possible to detect hemorrhages within the muscles of the back in all three cases, a so far unknown finding in death due to hypothermia. MRI also allowed the detection of hemorrhages in the iliopsoas muscles. Wishnewsky spots remained radiologically undetected using the present examination techniques. In conclusion, hemorrhages of the muscles of the back might serve as a new sign of death due to hypothermia; however, additional studies on their specificity are necessary. Post-mortem MRI is considered as a good diagnosing tool for muscular hemorrhages, with a great potential for examination and documentation.

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