Post-mortem computed tomography in forensic investigations of lethal gunshot incidents: is there an added value?

Rob A. T. van Kan*, I. I. H. Haest, M. B. I. Lobbes, J. Kroll, S. R. Ernst, B. Kubat, P. A. M. Hofman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this study is to assess the added value of post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) in fatal shooting incidents compared with autopsy findings. For this study, the analysis was restricted to the following four features: location of the entrance and exit wounds, internal injuries, location of projectiles or metal fragments and course of the trajectories. These features were selected because they provide essential information on the cause and manner of death. All data were retrospectively collected from medical forensic examinations of fatal shooting incidents in the Netherlands that occurred in 2010-2014. Twenty-one fatal shooting victims were included in this study, with a total of 100 trajectories. For all 100 trajectories, the forensic radiologist and pathologist came to a consensus on which examination had the highest diagnostic value for each of the four features. PMCT provides superior information on the presence of metal fragments, internal injuries and the course of trajectories. PMCT provides limited information on the discrimination of entrance and exit wounds. In conclusion, PMCT provides additional relevant information in over 60% of forensic medical examinations of deceased victims of shooting incidents. We therefore recommend adding PMCT as a standard examination in these cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1889-1894
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Post-mortem CT
  • Autopsy
  • Forensic radiology
  • Gunshot
  • Ballistic investigation
  • MSCT


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