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J Punjab Acad Forensic Med Toxicol 2011;11(2)

FORENSIC INTERPRETATION OF INJURIES / WOUNDS FOUND


ON THE HUMAN BODY
MUKESH SHARMA*, B S KHAJJA, SHAINENDRA JHA, G K MATHUR and V N MATHUR
Directorate, State Forensic Science Laboratory, Jaipur - 302 016 (Raj.), India

Abstract
Penetrating injuries of the body are most commonly the result of injury/wounds and are often associated with
a range of potentially life threatening injuries. In every physical assault, no matter it led to death or not, the
attacker had produced/left different types of marks in the victim's body that could be helpful to reconstruct the
crime scene and guide to determine the cause of death. In the present study, we have demonstrated some
examples of injuries/wounds found of the victim's body with illustrative photos. These provide a proper and
useful data for the forensic crime scene investigators.

Keywords: Injuries, types of injuries and digital photography, crime scene reconstruction
INTRODUCTION falls, traffic accident or domestic violence.
An injury is define as any harm, whatever illegally Chemical factors include damage to tissue by
caused to any person in body, mind, reputation or acids, alkalis or poisons as in Fig.1. A wound/
property as per Indian Panel Code (Sec. 44). In injury to the body occurs when the force applied to
forensic science, the injuries/wounds are produced the body is greater than the body's ability to
by physical violence, which break of the natural absorb such force. Injury mechanism refers to the
continuity of any of the tissues of the living body various forces commonly associated with trauma
[1]. Different types of injuries are summarized in (i.e., projectile, sharp, blunt, thermal and poly
Fig.1. Trauma is explained as an injury to the body trauma). Accurate identification of mechanism is
caused by physical, mechanical or chemical fac- dependent on pattern recognition as well as the
tors, which may result in wounds or possible com- contributions of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that
plications. The medical purposes, violence refers dictate the way wounds/injuries [3]. For example,
to either behaviour that result in injury or to the similarly-shaped striking surfaces produce
injury itself. This violence may result in both psy- different patterns if they impact at different
chological and physical trauma [2]. In the present velocities, and typically high-velocity projectiles can
paper, the authors have tried to exemplify the physi- be slowed in flight by an intermediate target. The
cal character of the injuries/wounds, which have injuries inflicted by mechanical force are generally
been caused with the help of different instruments/ divided into two categories as blunt and sharp
weapons. In the paper, illustrative photos of differ- forces. These may be more than one type of skin
ent injuries/wounds are reported for ready use in injury to the body and they may be localized and
forensic community. widespread. Sometimes, the absence of external
injury to the skin or genitalia does not exclude the
2. TYPES OF INJURIES/WOUNDS AND THEIR possibility of serious injury to the internal organs/
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: body parts. We have tried to explain the different
Mechanical factors include the use of weapons or mechanical injuries as shown in Fig.2.
instruments such as knives, screwdrivers, scissors,
razor blade, galss or guns and injuries results from

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J Punjab Acad Forensic Med Toxicol 2011;11(2)

Injuries
internal organs produced by application of
blunt force or broad are of the body. Types
Mech.
Force Thermal Chemical Others of lacerations are split lacerations (crushing
of the skin between two hard objects),
Injuries due to
Acids Alkalis Lightning, Electricity,
Blunt
Force
Sharp
Force
Radioactive substances stretch lacerations (overstretching of skin),
Cold Heat
avulsion, tears etc.

Fig. 1: Injuries due to physical violence


Mech.
ii) Sharp Force Injury: these are caused by
Force
cutting or stabbing the skin with sharp
Blunt Sharp
instruments/weapons such as kniv es,
Firearms
Force Force
swords, tins, broken glass bottles, razor
Fractures/ Entry wound Exit wound
Dislocations blade and tools (screw driver etc.). There
Abrasions Contusions
/Bruise
Lacerations Incised
/Cut
Stab / Penetrating
/puncture
are three types of sharp force injuries
explain as under
Fig. 2: Mechanical injuries are classified with
a) Incised/cuts Injury: This type of wound is a
specifications
superficial injury in which the size of the
i) Blunt Force Injury: On the body due to blunt
injuries on the surface is larger than the
forces or instruments, these injures are on
depth of the injuries generally made of
skin and scratches, grazing, bruising are
razor blade, axe and swords.
observed. These injuries are sub-categories
b) Stab/Penetrating/Puncture Injury: This type
as;
of injury is produced from the penetration of
a) Abrasions: In this type of injuries the skin in
pointed / sharp instruments/ weapons on to
which the outer layer of the skin is scarped
the depth of the body that is deeper than its
of f . Examples of the abrasions are
length, generally knives, broken glass
scratches, grazing of the skin caused by
bottles and tools. The stab injuries may be
dragging, imprint caused by belt/hunter/
single or multiple.
sticks.
b) Contusions/Bruises: This type of injuries
iii) Firearms Injury: They are usually recognized
occurs when blood vessels in the skin or
without difficulty. The injuries produced by
internal organ are ruptured. A bruise heals
fire arms vary depending on the projectile,
by destruction and remov al of the
the muzzle velocity, distance, angle of firing
extravasated blood. The colour change is
and part of the body involved [4]. These
very variable, starts at the periphery and
wound are subdivided as, when a bullet,
extends inwards to the center. At first its col
passing through a body, produces a wound
our is red, after few hours to 3 days it
a the point of entrance on the skin known
converted in to blue on 4th days is changes
as entry wound and another at the point of
into bluish-black. W hen bruising is
exit of the bullet known as exit wound. The
extensive and deeply situated the colour
dif f erences between both wound
takes longer time to appear externally.
characteristics are given in Table 1, which is
c) Lacerations: Lacerations are tears or splits
very useful for the forensic community while
of skin, mucous membranes, muscle or
examination at the spot of firearm used.
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Table 1: Difference in Physical characteristics of


entry and exit wound of bullet
S. Physical Properties Entry Wound Exit Wound
No.
1. Size Smaller than the diameter of Bigger than the bullet
the bullet
2. Edges of the skin Inverted Everted or Torn
3. Bruising/Abrasion Present Absent
4. Burning of the skinMay be observed around the Absent
wound
5. Lead ring or metal May be seen while radiological Absent
ring examination
6. Bleeding Less More

3. ILLUSTRATIONS OF INJURIES WITH


PHOTOS:

Split laceration

Abrasions

Stretch laceration
Illustration 1: Blunt Force Injury

Bruise

Cut/Incised injury

Contusion Single stab/penetrating injury

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J Punjab Acad Forensic Med Toxicol 2011;11(2)

Multiple stab/penetrating injury


Illustration 2: Sharp Force Injury

Entry wound behind the ear at LHS


Exit wound behind near ear at RHS in the
same case.

Illustration 3: Firearm Injury

From illustrations 1 to 3, all the different type of


injuries/wound and their typical edges can be
explained easily. From Illustration 1, blunt forces
occur whenever one makes contact with a hard
dull object in a way that hurts. Abrasions are
injuries that result in the removal of the superficial
layers of skin.
Now it is clearly be seen that stab wounds usually
are deeper than they are wide. They are also more
Entry wound
likely to be distorted by the victim's twisting and
turning to fend off an attacker. Incised or cut
wounds are caused when a sharp instrument is
drawn across the skin as illustrated in Illustration
2. Unlike stab wounds they have no characteristic
width or depth and thus reveal little of the nature of
the weapon. These wounds are rarely fatal but
when they are usually are suicidal or homicidal.
Suicidal wounds typically are found on the victim's
wrists and rarely on the neck. Suicidal incised
wounds frequently are accompanied by hesitation
marks.
In Illustration 3, the character of a wound produced
by a gunshot depends upon several factors includ-

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J Punjab Acad Forensic Med Toxicol 2011;11(2)

ing the distance between the victim and the muz- are sometimes disposed of but also for spent shell
zle of the gun. casings and/or loose rounds that were fired but
Whether the bullet remains within the victim or did not hit their intended targets and imbedded
passes completely through exiting the body (a themselves in nearby walls, doors or the ground.
through and through gunshot wound) as shown in
Illustration 3, the medical jurist can estimate the 5. REFERENCE:
distance from which a single bullet was fired by
looking closely at the entry wound. [1] Olshaker et al. Forensic Emergency
Medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins:
4. DISCUSSION: 2001
[2] Knight B. Forensic Pathology. 2nd ed.
In all injuries/ wound related cases the total number London: Amold, 1996; pp.232.
or wounds should be recorded and each would in [3] Polson CJ, Gee DJ and Knight B. The
carefully measured and it's characteristics de- Essentials of Forensic Medicine. 4th ed.
scribed with photography. A blunt force injury Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1985; pp.125-127.
comes from impact with a blunt object or some- [4] Sharma GK, Sarangi MP, Tyagi AK, Kumar
thing with no sharp edges. B. Medico-legal Interpretation of Stabbing
Forensic expert determine the direction of impact, and Cutting Injuries (An Autopsy Study).
the type of object that caused it and how often the JFMT, 1994; 11(1&2): 21; also Crowley,
contact was made, often they're made by blows Sharon R. Sexual Assault: The Medical-
from a hammer or axe head. Bite marks are also a Legal Examination. McGraw-Hill/Appleton &
form of crushing wounds. With a knife or incised Lange: 1999.
wounds the crime scene investigator must make a [5] Scolan V, Telmon M, Blanc JP, Allery D,
distinction between cut and stab or puncture Charlet RD. Homicide - Suicide By Stabbing
wounds and among different types of piercing im- Study Over 10 Years In The Toulouse
plements such as an ice pick or small knife. Most Region. The American Journal of Forensic
knives have a flat edge and a sharp edge which Medicine & Pathology, 2004; 25(1):33-36.
can be seen in the wound angels. Some wounds
are defensive such as cuts made on the palms or
fingers of a victim's hands. Some time cuts are
associated with suicidal gestures are known as
hesitation wounds as the person attempts to inflict
self-damage.
As with all instances of a firearms offence that re-
sults in an injury, measurements are taken along
with photographs to aid in the identification of the
weapon used, it is necessary for a Forensic ex-
pert. Powder residue samples are taken and if the
victim dies as a result of their gunshot wound, the
round is removed for ballistic analysis from the
corpse at the autopsy stage. The forensic scien-
tists and investigating officer scour the crime scene
looking not only for the weapon involved as they

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