The effect of post-mortem computed tomography angiography (PMCTA) using water-soluble, iodine-based radiographic contrast on histological analysis of the liver, kidneys and left ventricle of the heart

Samantha Higgins, Sarah Parsons, Noel Woodford, Matthew Lynch, Christopher Briggs, Chris O’Donnell

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of post-mortem computed-tomography angiography (PMCTA) on the histology of the liver, kidneys and heart. Multiple tissue cores were collected from the liver, left and right kidneys and left ventricle utilizing CT-guided biopsy. Subsequent whole body PMCTA was performed using a solution of polyethylene glycol and iodinated radiographic contrast, and an embalming pump. Corresponding biopsy cores were collected at autopsy, and blinded histology analysis assessing for PMCTA-induced histology artefact was performed. The blinded analysis of pre-PMCTA and post-PMCTA biopsy samples demonstrated that whole body PMCTA had no effect on the histological analyses of the liver (0%, CI = 0–13.7%), left ventricle of the heart (0%, CI = 0–36.9%) and right kidney (0%, CI = 13.2%), however likely caused increased Bowman’s capsule spaces in the left kidney of one case (4%, CI = 0.01–20.4%). Other artefactual histological changes identified included eosinophilic material in the liver, whiter interstitium and dilated tubules in kidney samples, and autolysis-related changes, however these could not be categorically attributed to the PMCTA procedure. PMCTA causes zero or minimal effect to the histological examination of the liver, left kidney, right kidney and left ventricle, and as such performing PMCTA prior to autopsy is unlikely to impact autopsy histological results in these organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
JournalForensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Artefact
  • Autopsy
  • CT-guided biopsy
  • Histology
  • Post-mortem CT angiography

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