Epicardial adipose tissue volume estimation by postmortem computed tomography of eviscerated hearts

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology, Springer Nature, ISSN 1556-2891

Volume 13, 4, 2017

DOI:10.1007/s12024-017-9930-1, Dimensions: pub.1092501084, PMID: 29098638,


* Corresponding author



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) may play a role in the development of coronary artery disease. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a method based on postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) for the estimation of EAT volume. We PMCT-scanned the eviscerated hearts of 144 deceased individuals, who underwent a medicolegal autopsy. Using Mimics® we performed segmentation of the images and obtained the volumes of EAT and myocardium. Total heart volume was calculated by adding the volumes of EAT and myocardium. Total heart weight, including EAT, myocardium and attached vessels, was measured during autopsy. Inter-observer analysis was performed on 30 randomly chosen subjects. We included 132 individuals in the results (age range: 22-94 years; 56% men). Twelve individuals were excluded due to inadequate PMCT scanning. Median EAT volume was 73.0 mL (Interquartile range; IQR: 45.6-113.7 mL) in men and 64.8 mL (IQR: 44.0-98.0 mL) in women, which accounted for 20.4 ± 10.2% and 21.9 ± 9.5% of total heart volume, respectively. This corresponded with former autopsy studies. Total heart volume measured by PMCT was highly correlated with heart weight (R2 = 90%). Mean inter-observer difference of EAT volume was -1.7 mL (95% limits of agreement: -37.0-33.6 mL), with an Intra Class Correlation of 0.91. It was possible to estimate EAT volume using PMCT on eviscerated human hearts. Our method was fast and accurate with good inter-observer agreement. This is a useful method to determine EAT at autopsy, and we will apply this method in future research.

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