The pseudo-SAH sign: an imaging pitfall in postmortem computed tomography
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of brain postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) findings for the detection of global hypoxia or hypoperfusion leading to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) prior to death. Cadavers of individuals who died from non-traumatic causes were subjected to PMCT and pathological autopsy. Cases with an episode of cardiopulmonary arrest, hypoxia, or hypoperfusion that required intensive respiratory management at least 24 h before death and exhibited findings of HIE in conventional autopsy (HIE group, n = 6) were compared with those without such episodes prior to death (control group; overall, n = 37; age-matched, n = 8) with regard to four parameters: (1) width of the central sulcus (CS), (2) attenuation difference at the basal ganglia (BG) level, (3) attenuation difference between cerebral gray matter (GM) and cerebral white matter (WM), and (4) attenuation difference between cerebellar GM and cerebral GM. The results revealed significant differences in the width of the CS (P < 0.001), attenuation difference at the BG level (P < 0.001), and attenuation difference between cerebral GM and cerebral WM (P = 0.009) between the HIE group and the overall control group. When the age-matched control group and the HIE group were compared, there was a significant difference in the width of the CS (P = 0.026) and attenuation difference at the BG level (P < 0.001). Our results suggest that effacement of the sulcus of the cerebral hemisphere and the loss of contrast at the BG level on brain PMCT indicate the existence of HIE prior to death.