Autopsy Radiography: Digital Radiographs (DR) vs Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) in High-Velocity Gunshot-Wound Victims

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This study compared full-body digital radiography (DR) with multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) in the postmortem evaluation of gunshot wound (GSW) victims. Thirteen consecutive male GSW victims (mean age, 27 years) had full-body DR and MDCT prior to routine autopsy. DR successfully identified all metallic fragments, but MDCT was superior in its ability to precisely determine location because it provided 3-dimensional anatomic localization. In all cases, MDCT more accurately assessed organ injuries and wound tracks. Both DR and MDCT are limited in classifying multiple wounds and major vessel injury, but MDCT is generally superior to DR.

MDCT shows significant advantages over DR in the forensic evaluation of GSW victims. This is particularly advantageous for the pathologist retrieving metallic fragments and for describing fracture detail accurately. Use of MDCT instead of radiographs will require medical examiners to become familiar with reading cross-sectional images.

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