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Post-Mortem MRI Accurate for Fetuses, Newborns, Infants

Similar accuracy to conventional autopsy for fetuses, newborns, infants; less accurate for older children

Post-Mortem MRI Accurate for Fetuses, Newborns, Infants

THURSDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- For fetuses, newborns, and infants, whole-body, post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has similar accuracy to conventional autopsy for detection of the cause of death, according to a study published online May 16 in The Lancet.

Sudhin Thayyil, Ph.D., from the Institute for Cardiovascular Science in London, and colleagues conducted a prospective study to assess the accuracy of whole-body, post-mortem MRI compared with conventional autopsy for detection of major pathological lesions associated with death in 400 cases, including 277 fetuses and 123 children.

The researchers found that, in 89.3 percent of cases, the cause of death or major pathological lesion detected by minimally invasive autopsy was concordant with conventional autopsy (94.6 percent of fetuses at 24 weeks of gestation or less; 95.7 percent of fetuses at more than 24 weeks of gestation; 81.0 percent of newborns aged 1 month or younger; 84.9 percent of infants aged 1 month to 1 year; and 53.6 percent of children aged 1 to 16 years). In 41 percent of cases a full autopsy might not have been needed, and in these cases there was 99.4 percent concordance between conventional autopsy and minimally invasive autopsy.

"Minimally invasive autopsy has accuracy similar to that of conventional autopsy for detection of cause of death or major pathological abnormality after death in fetuses, newborns, and infants, but was less accurate in older children," the authors write.

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