Postmortem ventilation: A new method for improved detection of pulmonary pathologies in forensic imaging

Germerott, Tanja; Flach, Patricia M; Preiss, Ulrich S; Ross, Steffen G; Thali, Michael J (2012). Postmortem ventilation: A new method for improved detection of pulmonary pathologies in forensic imaging. Legal medicine, 14(5), pp. 223-228. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.legalmed.2012.03.003

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Postmortem imaging has gained prominence in the field of forensic pathology. Even with experience in this procedure, difficulties arise in evaluating pathologies of the postmortem lung. The effect of postmortem ventilation with applied pressures of 10, 20, 30 and 40mbar was evaluated in 10 corpses using simultaneous postmortem computed tomography (pmCT) scans. Ventilation was performed via a continuous positive airway pressure mask (n=5), an endotracheal tube (n=4) and a laryngeal mask (n=1) using a portable home care ventilator. The lung volumes were measured and evaluated by a segmentation technique based on reconstructed CT data. The resulting changes to the lungs were analyzed. Postmortem ventilation at 40mbar induced a significant (p<0.05) unfolding of the lungs, with a mean volume increase of 1.32l. Small pathologies of the lung such as scarring and pulmonary nodules as well as emphysema were revealed, while inner livores were reduced. Even though lower ventilation pressures resulted in a significant (p<0.05) volume increase, pathologies were best evaluated when a pressure of 40mbar was applied, due to the greater reduction of the inner livores. With the ventilation-induced expansion of the lungs, a decrease in the heart diameter and gaseous distension of the stomach was recognized. In conclusion, postmortem ventilation is a feasible method for improving evaluation of the lungs and detection of small lung pathologies. This is because of the volume increase in the air-filled portions of the lung and reduced appearance of inner livores.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Germerott, Tanja, Flach, Patricia, Preiss, Ulrich, Ross, Steffen, Thali, Michael








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:06

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 212688)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback