Introduction: The aim of this study was to determine which single measurement on post-mortem cardiac MR reflects actual heart weight as measured at autopsy, assess the intra- and inter-observer reliability of MR measurements, derive a formula to predict heart weight from MR measurements and test the accuracy of the formula to prospectively predict heart weight.
Materials and methods:53 human cadavers underwent post-mortem cardiac MR and forensic autopsy. In Phase 1, left ventricular area and wall thickness were measured on short axis and four chamber view images of 29 cases. All measurements were correlated to heart weight at autopsy using linear regression analysis. In Phase 2, single left ventricular area measurements on four chamber view images (LVA_4C) from 24 cases were used to predict heart weight at autopsy based on equations derived during Phase 1. Intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to determine inter- and intra-reader agreement.
Results:Heart weight strongly correlates with LVA_4C (r=0.78 M; p<0.001). Intra-reader and inter-reader reliability was excellent for LVA_4C (ICC=0.81–0.91; p<0.001 and ICC=0.90; p<0.001 respectively). A simplified formula for heart weight ([g]≈LVA_4C [mm2]×0.11) was derived based on linear regression analysis.
Conclusions: This study shows that single circumferential area measurements of the left ventricle in the four chamber view on post-mortem cardiac MR reflect actual heart weight as measured at autopsy. These measurements yield an excellent intra- and inter-reader reliability and can be used to predict heart weight prior to autopsy or to give a reasonable estimate of heart weight in cases where autopsy is not performed.