Post-Mortem Organ Weights at a Medico-Legal State Facility in the eThekwini Region

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S. Govender, L. Lazarus; B. Z. De Gama & K. S. Satyapal


Organ weights may be influenced by various demographic parameters and environmental conditions, and they differ among populations. Numerous studies have been conducted in the Northern hemisphere, with paucity of literature regarding organ weights of many Southern hemispheric populations. This study aimed to document post-mortem organ weights of decedents in the eThekwini region, and to determine the influence of age, sex, population grouping and body length on the weight of these or gans. The study utilised 500 decedent organs (n=500), obtained from a medico-legal state mortuary in the eThekwini region, KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa. It entailed gross examination and weighing of the thoracic viz. heart, right and left lungs, and abdominal organs viz. liver, spleen as well as the right and left kidneys. All organs attained maximum or peak weights at various age intervals, with the heart continuing to increase in weight until 80 years of age. Organ weights illustrated statistical significance with age. The heart, lungs and liver were the only organs that showed statistical significance with sex. However, mean spleen weights were higher in females than in males, while the weights of both kidneys were higher in males. Organ weights of White decedents were higher than those of other population groups. There was a positive correlation between body length and all organ weights. Post-mortem organ weights of the present study are comparably higher than those reported in the Northern hemisphere. Therefore, organ weights reported from one geographic location may not be applicable to another and may lead to erroneous references ranges and possibly hinder interpretation during autopsy settings.

KEY WORDS: Anthropometry; Autopsy; eThekwini region; Organ weight.

How to cite this article

GOVENDER, S.; LAZARUS, L.; DE GAMA, B. Z. & SATYAPAL, K. S. Post-mortem organ weights at a medico-legal state facility in the eThekwini region. Int. J. Morphol., 35(4):1209-1213, 2017.