Post-Mortem Brain Weight Reference Range for a Select South African Population

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


Human brain weight plays a significant role in clinical and forensic settings, as cause of death may affect brain weight; and may be used in the detection of abnormalities associated with neurological disorders. Brain weights are geography specific and incorrect reference ranges may hinder interpretation during clinical and autopsy settings. This study assessed the influence of age, sex and race on post-mortem brain weights of a select medico-legal population; to create a geographically relevant reference range of brain weights for the eThekwini region. Standard autopsy protocol and procedures, using the Ghon method of dissection were implemented on four hundred and eighty-one decedents. Decedents were obtained from a medico-legal state mortuary in the eThekwini region, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa from June 2015 to March 2016. Black South African decedents comprised 83.6 % (402/481) of the sample population and whom reference ranges were formulated. Male decedents attained peak weight significantly earlier in the 11-20 year age interval, whereas female decedents in the 41-50 year age interval. However, no significance was observed between brain weight and age (p=0.799). Significant differences between sexes was noted, with mean male brains weighing significantly more (137.69 g, p<0.001). The mean brain weights were 1404.82±145.07 g and 1267.13±163.96 g in Black males and females, respectively. Post-mortem brain weights were predominantly of Black South Africans, with brain weights of both sexes comparably like those reported in the Northern hemisphere. However, brain weights attained peak weight at different age intervals, with variant brain weights between different racial groups within South Africa. Therefore, brain weight reference ranges may not be applicable to another geographic locality.

KEY WORDS: Brain Weight; Post-mortem; Reference range; South Africa.

How to cite this article

GOVENDER, S.;LAZARUS, L.; DE GAMA, B. Z & SATYAPAL, K. S. Post-mortem brain weight reference ranges for a select South African population. Int. J. Morphol., 36(3):915-920, 2018.