Purpose The aim of the study is to report radiological findings and features in advanced decomposed bodies obtained by post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) with autopsy correlation. Materials and methods This retrospective descriptive multicentric study included 41 forensic cases examined between May 2013 and November 2016. All the bodies were PMCT-scanned prior to autopsy, and internal putrefactive state was determined using the radiological alteration index (RAI) by a radiologist with expertise in forensic radiology and a forensic pathologist trained in forensic imaging. After PMCT scans, grade of external putrefaction (GEP) was assigned during the external examination and the complete autopsy was performed by forensic pathologists. Results The PMCT images evaluation revealed that the RAI index was > 61 in all bodies, corresponding to a moderate-massive presence of putrefactive gas. The gas grade was > II in correspondence of the major vessels, heart cavities, liver parenchyma, vertebra L3 and subcutaneous pectoral tissues, and varied from I to III in correspondence of the kidney. Cadaveric external examination revealed the presence of advanced transformative phenomena, with a GEP3 and GEP4 in most of the cases, with body swelling, eyes and tongue protrusion, body fluids expulsion and fat liquefaction. Conclusion Radiological imaging by PMCT as an adjunct to autopsy in advanced decomposed bodies represents a useful tool in detecting post-mortem gas, even in very small amounts. A correct interpretation process of the PMCT data is essential to avoid images pitfalls, due to natural decomposition that can be mistaken for pathologic processes.
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