Cardiac laceration with non-penetrating chest trauma is reported as a common cause of death in human following rapid deceleration in high-speed vehicular accident. In contrast, in veterinary medicine, traumatic rupture of heart and great-vessel structures appears to be an uncommon cause of death. Here we report three cases of cardiac laceration following non-penetrating chest trauma in a one cat and two dogs. In two of these cases, necropsy revealed a rupture of the heart associated with fractures of the ribs and lung contusion; only one case did not exhibit any external chest injury but revealed pericardial tear associated with hemothorax following rupture of the right auricle of the heart. However, in all three presented cases, the thoracic location of the injuries allowed to conclude that the cause of the cardiac rupture was due to a direct impact of the chest wall with a high speed object and consequent transmission of the kinetic force and compression of the heart between left and right thorax. These case reports underline the importance of a systematic and complete macroscopic evaluation of the heart in all cases of death following non-penetrating chest trauma in dog and cat such as in human. They also highlight how, in clinical and forensic practice, the cardiac injury following blunt chest trauma should be ruled out even in the cases of absence of external chest injury.
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