Diagnosing Drowning in Postmortem CT Images Using Artificial Intelligence

Terumasa Ogawara, Akihito Usui, Noriyasu Homma, Masato Funayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Imaging features of the lung in postmortem computed tomography (CT) scans have been reported in drowning cases. However, it is difficult for forensic pathologists with limited experience to distinguish subtle differences in CT images. In this study, artificial intelligence (AI) with deep learning capability was used to diagnose drowning in postmortem CT images, and its performance was evaluated. The samples consisted of high-resolution CT images of the chest of 153 drowned and 160 non-drowned bodies captured by an 8-or 64-row multislice CT system. The images were captured with an image slice thickness of 1.0 mm and spacing of 30 mm, and 28 images were typically captured. A modified AlexNet was used as the AI architecture. The output result was the drowning probability for each component image. To evaluate the performance of the proposed model, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was analyzed, and the AUC value of 0.95 was obtained. This indicates that the proposed AI architecture is a useful and powerful complementary testing approach for diagnosing drowning in postmortem CT images. Notably, the accuracy was 81% (62/77) for cases in which resuscitation was performed, and 92% (216/236) for cases in which resuscitation was not attempted. Therefore, the proposed AI method should not be used to diagnose the cause of death when aggressive cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed. Additionally, because honeycomb lungs are likely to exhibit different morphologies, emphysema cases should also be treated with caution when the proposed AI method is used to diagnose drowning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalTohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • artificial intelligence
  • autopsy
  • deep learning
  • drowning
  • postmortem computed tomography


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