Homicidal cardiac lacerations in children

S. D. Cohle, D. A. Hawley, K. K. Berg, E. L. Kiesel, J. E. Pless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


We report six cases of intentionally inflicted cardiac laceration. The victims ranged in age from 9 weeks to 2 1/2 years. Five victims were girls and in five cases the right atrium was lacerated. The left ventricle was lacerated in the other case. In the three cases with a confession, one victim each was struck with a fist, stomped, mid kicked. Four patients had rib fractures, with at least two fractures in each case. Cardiac rupture from blunt trauma most commonly results from compression of the heart between the sternum mid vertebral column, but may also occur from compression of the abdomen or legs, deceleration, blast injury, puncture of the heart by a fractured rib, and rupture through a resolving contusion. Accidentally acquired cardiac lacerations usually result from motor vehicle accidents or similarly severe forces. In children there me neither well documented cases of cardiac laceration nor of rib fractures from cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Cardiac lacerations, as with other types of severe trauma acquired at home, are almost never accidental.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-218
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995


  • child abuse
  • heart injuries
  • homicide
  • nonpenetrating
  • pathology and biology
  • wounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics

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