Journal 8, August 2005pages: 498-501
Objectives: To provide data on fatal traumatic heart wounds in autopsied cases.
Methods: We reviewed 2,487 medico-legal autopsy records of the morgue department of the Bursa branch of the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine for the period 1997–2001.
Results: Of these cases, 160 (6.4%) had cardiac injury; 13.8% were females and 86.2% males, and the mean age was 35.9 years old (range 4–65). The most common cause of heart wounds was penetrating trauma (87.5%), namely sharp injuries (48.1%) and firearm injuries (39.4%). The two most common causes of blunt heart wounds were traffic accidents (5.6%) and falls from a height (5%). Rupture was present in 96.9% of the cases, and isolated left ventricle and isolated right ventricle were ruptured in 31.3% and 23.8%, respectively. In penetrating injury the risk of ventricle rupture was higher than of atrium rupture. Alcohol was detected in 16.3% of cases. Only 3.5% of the penetrating cardiac injury cases and 5% of the blunt cardiac injury cases were admitted to hospital.
Conclusions: Given that only a very low percentage of the patients who sustain cardiac injury reach hospital alive, population-based studies, especially autopsy results, should be conducted to define the characteristics of cardiac injuries.