Objective: To determine the utility of postmortem CT (PMCT) examination in establishing the cause of death among male prisoners dying in Karachi jails.
Methods: A descriptive study was carried out from February 2006 to September 2007, CT Scan section, Civil Hospital Karachi and the Mortuary, Dow Medical College, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi. Adult male prisoners dying in the Karachi central prison and referred to the study setting for determining the cause of death for medico legal purpose were included. Female prisoners and those cases where the final report of cause of death was not available were excluded. CT scan of the vital body regions (head, neck, thorax, abdomen and pelvis) was carried out in all cases. The scan was read and reported by two radiologists. Anatomical dissection based autopsy was carried out by the forensic expert. Final report regarding the cause of death was issued by the forensic expert based on the combined findings, histopathology, toxicology results and circumstantial evidence. The CT scan and autopsy findings were compared and percentage agreement was determined using kappa statistics.
Results: There were 14 cases in all with mean age of 41.2 +/- 17 years. The alleged mode of death was custodial torture in all cases. CT scan determined the cause of death to be natural cardio-respiratory failure in 10, strangulation in 01, pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in 02 and trauma to spine in 01 case. The autopsy determined natural death in 11 and pulmonary TB in 02 and asphyxia in 01. The percentage agreement between CT and autopsy was 92% (k = 0.92) and between CT and finalized cause of death was 100% (k = 1.0).
Conclusion: PMCT is as effective as dissection autopsy in identifying pulmonary infections and natural causes of death. It is more effective in identifying vertebral fractures which may exclude hanging and corroborate trauma to spine.
JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Mirza, F. H.,
Khan, Q. S.
(2010). Postmortem computed tomography for diagnosis of cause of death in male prisoners. JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 60(1), 4-8.
Available at: https://ecommons.aku.edu/pakistan_fhs_mc_radiol/403