Deep Into the Fibers! Postmortem Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Forensic Radiology.

Flach, Patricia Mildred; Schroth, Sarah Anna; Schweitzer, Wolf; Ampanozi, Garyfalia; Slotboom, Johannes; Kiefer, Claus; Germerott, Tanja; Thali, Michael J; El-Koussy, Marwan (2015). Deep Into the Fibers! Postmortem Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Forensic Radiology. American journal of forensic medicine & pathology, 36(3), pp. 153-161. Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000177

00000433-201509000-00008.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (4MB) | Preview

PURPOSE In traumatic brain injury, diffusion-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging of the brain are essential techniques for determining the pathology sustained and the outcome. Postmortem cross-sectional imaging is an established adjunct to forensic autopsy in death investigation. The purpose of this prospective study was to evaluate postmortem diffusion tensor imaging in forensics for its feasibility, influencing factors and correlation to the cause of death compared with autopsy. METHODS Postmortem computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging with fiber tracking were performed in 10 deceased subjects. The Likert scale grading of colored fractional anisotropy maps was correlated to the body temperature and intracranial pathology to assess the diagnostic feasibility of postmortem diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tracking. RESULTS Optimal fiber tracking (>15,000 fiber tracts) was achieved with a body temperature at 10°C. Likert scale grading showed no linear correlation (P > 0.7) to fiber tract counts. No statistically significant correlation between total fiber count and postmortem interval could be observed (P = 0.122). Postmortem diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tracking allowed for radiological diagnosis in cases with shearing injuries but was impaired in cases with pneumencephalon and intracerebral mass hemorrhage. CONCLUSIONS Postmortem diffusion tensor imaging with fiber tracking provides an exceptional in situ insight "deep into the fibers" of the brain with diagnostic benefit in traumatic brain injury and axonal injuries in the assessment of the underlying cause of death, considering influencing factors for optimal imaging technique.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > DCR Unit Sahli Building > Forschungsgruppe Neurologie

UniBE Contributor:

Schroth, Sarah Anna; Slotboom, Johannes; Kiefer, Claus and El-Koussy, Marwan


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins




Martin Zbinden

Date Deposited:

05 Oct 2015 09:22

Last Modified:

01 Oct 2016 02:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback