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Organ volume measurements: comparison between MRI and autopsy findings in infants following sudden unexpected death
  1. Olivier Prodhomme1,
  2. Fabienne Seguret2,
  3. Laurent Martrille3,
  4. Odile Pidoux4,5,
  5. Gilles Cambonie4,5,
  6. Alain Couture1,
  7. Caroline Rouleau6,7
  1. 1Department of Pediatric Radiology, Montpellier University Hospital, Montpellier, France
  2. 2Department of Medical Information, Montpellier University Hospital, Montpellier, France
  3. 3Department of Forensic Medicine, Nancy University Hospital, Nancy, France
  4. 4Unexpected Infant Death Regional Center of Montpelier, Montpellier University Hospital, Montpellier, France
  5. 5Department of Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Montpellier University Hospital Centre, Montpellier cedex 5, France
  6. 6Institute of Pathology, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland
  7. 7Department of Pathology, INSERM 1046 Unit, Montpellier University Hospital, Montpellier, France
  1. Correspondence to Caroline Rouleau, Lausanne University Hospital, Institute of Pathology, rue du Bugnon 25, Lausanne 1011, Switzerland; r-caroline{at}


Objective To assess the accuracy of a semiautomated 3D volume reconstruction method for organ volume measurement by postmortem MRI.

Methods This prospective study was approved by the institutional review board and the infants' parents gave their consent. Postmortem MRI was performed in 16 infants (1 month to 1 year of age) at 1.5 T within 48 h of their sudden death. Virtual organ volumes were estimated using the Myrian software. Real volumes were recorded at autopsy by water displacement. The agreement between virtual and real volumes was quantified following the Bland and Altman's method.

Results There was a good agreement between virtual and real volumes for brain (mean difference: −0.03% (−13.6 to +7.1)), liver (+8.3% (−9.6 to +26.2)) and lungs (+5.5% (−26.6 to +37.6)). For kidneys, spleen and thymus, the MRI/autopsy volume ratio was close to 1 (kidney: 0.87±0.1; spleen: 0.99±0.17; thymus: 0.94±0.25), but with a less good agreement. For heart, the MRI/real volume ratio was 1.29±0.76, possibly due to the presence of residual blood within the heart. The virtual volumes of adrenal glands were significantly underestimated (p=0.04), possibly due to their very small size during the first year of life. The percentage of interobserver and intraobserver variation was lower or equal to 10%, but for thymus (15.9% and 12.6%, respectively) and adrenal glands (69% and 25.9%).

Conclusions Virtual volumetry may provide significant information concerning the macroscopic features of the main organs and help pathologists in sampling organs that are more likely to yield histological findings.

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  • Funding Clinical Research Department of Montpellier.

  • Data sharing statement As the corresponding author, I certify that this report is an original work and that it has not been published elsewhere. No additional unpublished data from this work are available. All authors are legitimate and have actively contributed to the work.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Local research ethics committee, Comité de Protection des Personnes (CPP) Méditerranée IV (date of approval November 2008).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed