During the last years, post-mortem imaging has gradually been assumed within research in the field of forensic pathology. This role appears to be clearly and simply applied in the trauma field with the use of conventional radiography or Post Mortem Computed Tomography (PMCT). Recently, particular attention was paid to cardiovascular imaging using Post Mortem Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PMMRI). The present experimental study aims to: (i) confirm the efficacy of a Post Mortem Cardiac Resonance Imaging (PMCRI) study protocol for the study of human hearts collected during the autopsy; (ii) apply the defined protocol on subjects who died of "SCD (sudden cardiac death)", to identify alterations that could guide subsequent sampling. Two hearts of healthy subjects (A: male 22 years; B: female 26 years), who died from causes other than SCD were collected and compared to hearts that belonged to SCD individuals (C: male, 47 years old; D: female, 44 years old; E: male; 72 years old). The exams were performed on a 1.5 T scanner (Philips Intera Achieva, Best, the Netherlands) on hearts collected during autopsy and after a 30-day formalin fixation. Two readers analyzed the obtained images blindly and after randomization. From the comparison between the data from imaging and the macroscopic and histological investigations carried out, the present study proved the effectiveness of a PMMRI protocol to study ex-situ hearts. Moreover, it suggested the following semeiology in post-mortem SCD cases: the hyperintense area with indistinct margins in the Short Tau Inversion Recovery (STIR) sequence was linked to edema or area of pathological fibers, whereas the hypointense area in the T2-FFE sequences was linked to fibrosis. PMMRI can provide a valuable benefit to post-mortem investigations, helping to distinctly improve the success rate of histological sampling and investigations, which remains the gold standard in the diagnosis of sudden death.
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