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Variation in Methods of Cardiac Dissection—A Potential Confounder in Measuring Cardiac Weight at Autopsy

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To evaluate whether the weight of the heart measured at autopsy may be affected by the type of dissection, a prospective study was undertaken of the weights of sequential cases of nonpediatric hearts. Four hundred fifty‐eight hearts were examined (age range 17–96 years; mean 55.9 years; M:F = 3:1). The hearts were each weighed fresh, once the apex had been sliced, the auricles of the atria opened and blood drained, and again once the cardiac chambers had been opened completely. The difference in the partially and fully opened heart weights (range 146–1028 g; mean 434.8 g; range 134–1011 g; mean 420.8 g, respectively) (p < 0.05) ranged from 0 to 100 g (mean 14 g). In the most extreme example, the weight of the partially opened heart was 30.3% higher than that of the fully opened specimen. Failure to fully open the heart prior to weighing may result in significant error.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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