Sudden cardiac death related to left coronary artery anomalies including hypoplasia and anomalous origin with retro-aortic course

Leg Med (Tokyo). 2023 Mar;61:102186. doi: 10.1016/j.legalmed.2022.102186. Epub 2022 Dec 16.


Congenital anomalies of the coronary arteries are a rare condition with an incidence of 0.3-1.3% in the general population. Clinically, sometimes these anomalies increase the risk of myocardial ischemia, which can present with a wide spectrum of symptoms, from angina to sudden cardiac death (SCD). This case report is about the SCD of an 8-year-old male, in apparent good health, during a football training. Although basic life support maneuvers were performed timely from bystanders and medical staff, the automated external defibrillator (AED) was not used. Autopsy revealed multiple left coronary artery (LCA) anomalies: origin from a separate ostium in the right sinus of Valsalva, slit-like shape of the ostium, acute angle take-off of the LCA from the aorta, retro-aortic course and focal coronary hypoplasia of some branches of the LCA. Microscopic examination revealed diffuse ischemic consequences at a different stage of tissue repair and mild multifocal lymphocytic infiltration. No other significant elements were detected at post-mortem examination. We discuss the forensic evaluation about the cause and the manner of death, considering also the modality of the resuscitation attempts and the claimed malpractice, as often occurs in case of sudden unexpected death in young athletes.

Keywords: Coronary anomalies; Ectopic origin and course of coronary artery; Hypoplasia of coronary arteries; Sudden cardiac death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aorta
  • Child
  • Coronary Artery Disease*
  • Coronary Vessel Anomalies* / diagnosis
  • Coronary Vessel Anomalies* / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male