Post-mortem Foetal Imaging

  • Sergio SalernoEmail author
  • Filippo Alberghina
  • Maria Chiara Terranova
  • Giuseppe Lo Re
  • Emiliano Maresi
  • Roberto Lagalla


The gold standard for the diagnosis of foetal death is known to be the autopsy examination, which is sometimes supplemented by chromosomal and/or genetic studies. Nevertheless, autopsy rates are continuously declining, due to multifactorial and complex reasons, even anatomical, social and psychological ones, thus impacting the rate of radiological post-mortem foetal examinations.


CT MRI Post-mortem foetal imaging 


  1. 1.
    Bonetti LR et al (2011) The role of fetal autopsy and placental examination in the causes of fetal death: a retrospective study of 132 cases of stillbirths. Arch Gynecol Obstet 283:231–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Miller ES et al (2016) Stillbirth evaluation: a stepwise assessment of placental pathology and autopsy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 214:115e1–115e6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Heller DS, Faye-Petersen OM (2015) Pathology of the still- born infant for the general pathologist: part 1. Adv Anat Pathol 22:1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gordijn SJ et al (2002) Value of the perinatal autopsy: critique. Pediatr Dev Pathol 5(5):480–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brodlie M et al (2002) Ten years of neonatal autopsies in tertiary referral Centre: retrospective study. BMJ 324(7340):761–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Burton JL, Underwood J (2007) Clinical, educational, and epidemiological value of autopsy. Lancet 369(9571):1471–1480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Griffiths PD et al (2005) Post-mortem MRI as an adjunct to fetal or neonatal autopsy. Lancet 365(9466):1271–1273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lequin MH, Huisman TA (2012) Postmortem MR imaging in the fetal and neonatal period. Magn Reson Imaging Clin N Am 20(1):129–143. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cartlidge PHT et al (1995) Value and quality of perinatal and infant post mortem examinations: cohort analysis of 400 consecutive cases. BMJ 310:155–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Vujanic GM et al (1995) Perinatal and infant postmortem examinations: how well are we doing? J Clin Pathol 48:998–1001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Griffiths PD et al (2003) Postmortem MR imaging of the fetal and stillborn central nervous system. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 24(1):22–27PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vullo A et al (2016) Post-mortem magnetic resonance foetal imaging: a study of morphological correlation with conventional autopsy and histopathological findings. Radiol Med 121(11):847–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sieswerda-Hoogendoorn T and van Rijn RR(2010) Current techniques in postmortem imaging with specific attention to paediatric applications. Pediatr Radiol 40(2):141–152; quiz 259. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Arthurs OJ et al (2015) Paediatric and perinatal postmortem imaging: the need for a subspecialty approach. Pediatr Radiol 45(4):483–490. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Arthurs OJ et al (2016) ESPR postmortem imaging task force: where we begin. Pediatr Radiol 46(9):1363–1369. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Arthurs OJ et al (2014) Current status of paediatric post-mortem imaging: an ESPR questionnaire-based survey. Pediatr Radiol 44(3):244–251. Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cousens S et al (2011) National, regional, and worldwide estimates of stillbirth rates in 2009 with trends since 1995: a systematic analysis. Lancet 377(9774):1319–1330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Italian Ministry of Health (2014) Decree October 7.
  19. 19.
    Calder AD, Offiah AC (2015) Foetal radiography for suspected skeletal dysplasia: technique, normal appearances, diagnostic approach. Pediatr Radiol 45(4):536–548. Scholar
  20. 20.
    Farina J et al (2002) Ultrasonographic autopsy (echopsy): a new autopsy technique. Virchows Arch 440:635–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Uchigasaki S et al (2004) Application of compact ultrasound imaging device to postmortem diagnosis. Forensic Sci Int 140:33–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bolliger SA et al (2008) Virtual autopsy using imaging: bridging radiologic and forensic sciences. A review of the Virtopsy and similar projects. Eur Radiol 18:273–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Lombardi CM et al (2014) Postmortem microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) of small fetuses and hearts. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 44(5):600–609. Scholar
  24. 24.
    Sarda-Quarello L et al (2016) Whole-body perinatal postmortem CT angiography. Diagn Interv Imaging 97(1):121–124. Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gorincour G et al (2015) The future of pediatric and perinatal postmortem imaging. Pediatr Radiol 45(4):509–516. Scholar
  26. 26.
    Breeze AC et al (2006) Use of a confidence scale in reporting postmortem fetal magnetic resonance imaging. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 28(7):918–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Thayyil S et al (2011) Post mortem magnetic resonance imaging in the fetus, infant and child: a comparative study with conventional autopsy (MaRIAS Protocol). BMC Pediatr 11:120. Scholar
  28. 28.
    Arthurs OJ et al (2015) Magnetic Resonance Imaging Autopsy Study (MARIAS) Collaborative Group. Diagnostic accuracy and limitations of post-mortem MRI for neurological abnormalities in fetuses and children. Clin Radiol 70:872–880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Orasanu E et al (2014) Brain volume estimation from post-mortem newborn and fetal MRI. Neuroimage Clin 6:438–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Whitby E et al (2001) Ultrafast MR assessment of CNS abnormalities in third trimester pregnancy: methodology and early experience. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 108:519–526Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Arthurs OJ et al (2014) Magnetic Resonance Imaging Autopsy Study (MARIAS) Collaborative Group (2014) Diagnostic accuracy of post-mortem MRI for thoracic abnormalities in fetuses and children. Eur Radiol 24:2876–2884CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Thayyil S et al (2009) Post-mortem examination of human fetuses: a comparison of whole-body high-field MRI at 9.4 T with conventional MRI and invasive autopsy. Lancet 374:467–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Sarikouch S et al (2008) Value of postmortem magnetic resonance imaging for fatal neonatal congenital heart disease: a case report. Pediatr Cardiol 29:667–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Arthurs OJ et al (2015) Magnetic Resonance Imaging Autopsy Study (MaRIAS) Collaborative Group (2015) Diagnostic accuracy of post mortem MRI for abdominal abnormalities in foetuses and children. Eur J Radiol 84:474–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Woodward PJ et al (1997) Postmortem fetal MR imaging: comparison with findings at autopsy. AJR Am J Roentgenol 168(1):41–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Arthurs OJ, Taylor AM, Sebire NJ (2015) Indications, advantages and limitations of perinatal postmortem imaging in clinical practice. Pediatr Radiol 45(4):491–500. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Salerno
    • 1
    Email author
  • Filippo Alberghina
    • 2
  • Maria Chiara Terranova
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Lo Re
    • 1
  • Emiliano Maresi
    • 3
  • Roberto Lagalla
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biopathology and Medical BiotechnologiesUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Ospedale “R.Guzzardi” Vittoria—ASP RAGUSAPalermoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Sciences for the Promotion of Health and Maternal and Child Care “G. D’Alessandro”University of PalermoPalermoItaly

Personalised recommendations