Volume 49, Issue 6 (November 2004)
Visualization and Quantification of Air Embolism Structure by Processing Postmortem MSCT Data
Venous air embolism (VAE) is an often occurring forensic finding in cases of injury to the head and neck. Whenever found, it has to be appraised in its relation to the cause of death. While visualization and quantification is difficult at traditional autopsy, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) offer a new potential in the diagnosis of VAE. This paper reports the findings of VAE in four cases of massive head injury examined postmortem by Multislice Computed Tomography (MSCT) prior to autopsy. MSCT data of the thorax were processed using 3D air structure reconstruction software to visualize air embolism within the vascular system. Quantification of VAE was done by multiplying air containing areas on axial 2D images by their reconstruction intervals and then by summarizing the air volumes. Excellent 3D visualization of the air within the vascular system was obtained in all cases, and the intravascular gas volume was quantified.