PURPOSE:This study evaluated the usefulness of multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) in the postmortem diagnosis of death by drowning in fresh water by measuring the difference of blood density within the cardiac chambers.MATERIALS AND METHODS:Twenty-two corpses including six cases of fresh-water drowning (group A) and 16 deaths by other causes (group B), among which were also different forms of mechanical asphyxia other than drowning, underwent MDCT and conventional autopsy. Blood density within the right and left heart chambers, the aorta and the pulmonary trunk was measured and values compared between groups and within each group between heart chambers.RESULTS:Blood density in all cardiac chambers was lower in group A than in group B. The difference was statistically significant within the left atrium and ventricle and was significantly lower in the left than in the right heart chambers in group A only.CONCLUSIONS:MDCT, together with conventional autopsy, may contribute to the diagnosis of drowning, by measuring blood density in the heart chambers.
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