Objective:Post-mortem examination can provide important information about the cause of death and play a significant role in the bereavement process. Autopsies reveal previous unknown medical problems approximately 20 to 30% of the time. A non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging-based post-mortem examination (PM-MRI) may provide an alternative for families who do not consent to an autopsy.Study Design:This study was a prospective observational study of recently expired neonates and infants. Subjects underwent a full body MRI scan (brain, chest, abdomen and pelvis) followed by conventional autopsy if the family desired to have one. MRI results were compared with autopsy findings and the ante-mortem clinical diagnosis. A follow-up survey was conducted to investigate family perceptions of the PM-MRI process.Results:Thirty-one infants underwent full PM-MRI. Of 31 infants, 19 (61%) had complete agreement between the clinician's impression and PM-MRI. Twenty-four infants also had conventional autopsy, with 14/24 (58%) infants having PM-MRI results consistent with autopsy findings. PM-MRI was superior at detection of free intraperitoneal/intrathoracic air and hepatic iron overload. Whole-body PM-MRI did not have the resolution to detect focal/microscopic injury, vascular remodeling and some forms of brain injury. Of those families who remembered the PM-MRI findings, the majority felt that the information was useful.Conclusions:PM-MRI studies may provide an important adjunct to conventional autopsy and a substitute when the latter is not possible for personal or religious reasons. Clinicians should be aware of, and communicate with the family, the resolution limits of the whole-body PM-MRI to detect certain types of injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Perinatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


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