Essentials of forensic post-mortem MR imaging in adults

Ruder, Thomas; Thali, M.J.; Hatch, G.M. (2013). Essentials of forensic post-mortem MR imaging in adults. British journal of radiology, 87(1036), p. 20130567. British Institute of Radiology 10.1259/bjr.20130567

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Post-mortem MR (PMMR) imaging is a powerful diagnostic tool with a wide scope in forensic radiology. In the past 20 years, PMMR has been used as both an adjunct and an alternative to autopsy. The role of PMMR in forensic death investigations largely depends on the rules and habits of local jurisdictions, availability of experts, financial resources, and individual case circumstances. PMMR images are affected by post-mortem changes, including position-dependent sedimentation, variable body temperature and decomposition. Investigators must be familiar with the appearance of normal findings on PMMR to distinguish them from disease or injury. Coronal whole-body images provide a comprehensive overview. Notably, short tau inversion–recovery (STIR) images enable investigators to screen for pathological fluid accumulation, to which we refer as “forensic sentinel sign”. If scan time is short, subsequent PMMR imaging may be focussed on regions with a positive forensic sentinel sign. PMMR offers excellent anatomical detail and is especially useful to visualize pathologies of the brain, heart, subcutaneous fat tissue and abdominal organs. PMMR may also be used to document skeletal injury. Cardiovascular imaging is a core area of PMMR imaging and growing evidence indicates that PMMR is able to detect ischaemic injury at an earlier stage than traditional autopsy and routine histology. The aim of this review is to present an overview of normal findings on forensic PMMR, provide general advice on the application of PMMR and summarise the current literature on PMMR imaging of the head and neck, cardiovascular system, abdomen and musculoskeletal system.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic, Interventional and Paediatric Radiology

UniBE Contributor:

Ruder, Thomas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




British Institute of Radiology




Aisha Stefania Mzinga

Date Deposited:

11 Jun 2014 16:05

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2016 01:52

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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