Heart, liver and spleen pathology in chronic alcohol and drug users

Junie Li Chun Wong, Juan Carlos Arango-Viana, Timothy Squires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alcohol- and drug-related deaths remain a major problem in the UK. Although the pathological findings of cardio-, hepato- and splenomegaly are frequently and empirically associated with chronic alcohol and drug use, there is limited published evidence available. This study hypothesises that organomegaly is associated with chronic substance use, and may represent a prognostic indicator. The weights of hearts, livers and spleens from 280 chronic alcoholics (CA) and 33 chronic drug users (CD) were compared to those of 291 controls. Using a forensic pathology database, CA and CD subjects were identified from 4708 autopsies (January 2003-June 2006) by identifying adult cases with no known coexistent diseases. The controls were non-substance users and previously healthy adults who died of traumatic injuries. Alcohol misuse was associated with cardiomegaly (27% vs. 19%, male CA vs. control) and hepatomegaly (38% vs. 15%). Majority of cases had only one organ affected. In CA, occurrence of hepatomegaly was associated with death at a younger age (female mean age 47+/-9.4, p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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