• forensic science;
  • forensic pathology;
  • virtual autopsy;
  • pulmonary fat embolism;
  • percutaneous needle biopsy;
  • double-edged knife

Abstract:  We investigated the feasibility of postmortem percutaneous needle biopsy (PNB) for obtaining pulmonary samples adequate for the study of pulmonary fat embolism (PFE). Samples of both lungs were obtained from 26 cadavers via two different methods: (i) PNB and (ii) the double-edged knife technique, the gold standard at our institute. After water storage and Sudan III staining, six forensic pathologists independently examined all samples for the presence and severity of PFE. The results were compared and analyzed in each case regarding the vitality of the PFE and its relationship to the cause of death. The results showed that PFE was almost identically diagnosed and graded on the samples obtained via both methods. The discrepancies between the two techniques did not affect the diagnoses of vitality or cause of death related to PFE. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the PNB sampling method for the diagnosis and interpretation of PFE in the postmortem setting.