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Background: Sudden death in the young is a tragic complication of a number of medical diseases. There is limited data regarding the utility of post-mortem Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging and Computer Tomography (CT) scanning in determining the cause of sudden death. This study sought to compare the accuracy of post-mortem cross-sectional imaging (MR and CT) with the conventional autopsy in determining the cause of sudden death in the young. Methods. Consecutive patients from 2010 to 2012 (aged 1-35 years) who had sudden death were included. Patients were scanned by CT and 1.5 T MR imaging prior to the conventional autopsy being performed. The primary outcome was diagnostic congruence between imaging and conventional autopsy. Results: In 17 patients studied, the mean age at death was 23 ± 11 years, with a male predominance (n = 12; 71%). The most common cause of death was a primary cardiac pathology (n = 8; 47%), including ARVC (24%) and ischemic heart disease (12%). Non-cardiac causes identified included pulmonary embolism (6%), and aortic dissection (6%). MR imaging correctly identified the diagnosis in 12 patients who subsequently had positive findings at conventional autopsy, while the diagnosis in the remaining 5 cases remained unexplained. MR imaging was found to be highly sensitive (100%) with a high negative (100%) and positive (80%) predictive value. Conclusions: Dedicated post-mortem MR imaging of the heart and brain is a useful modality in determining the cause of sudden death in children and young adults, particularly in situations where a conventional autopsy cannot be performed for logistic, cultural or personal reasons. © 2014 Puranik et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Puranik, R., Gray, B., Lackey, H., Yeates, L., Parker, G., Duflou, J., & Semsarian, C. (2014). Comparison of conventional autopsy and magnetic resonance imaging in determining the cause of sudden death in the young. Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1532-429X-16-44