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Incised and Stab Wounds

Incised Wounds

Injury by an instrument or a weapon with a sharp cutting edge is known as incised wound.

Synonyms include cuts, slashes and slices.

Examples are knives, razors, broken glass edge, edge of paper, etc.

  • Injury varies in sharpness according to the characters of weapon
  • Margins are clean cut
  • No bruising of wound edges occurs
  • Wound is usually linear
  • Length of wound is greater than its depth
  • All tissues are clearly divided and there is no tissue bridging
  • As the vessels are cut, bleeding is profuse even in small incised wounds
  • At the commencement, the tissues are more deeply cut and tails off at the end. This indicates the direction of the wound.
  • If sharp weapon enters obliquely, one margin of wound is beveled and the other overhangs, indicating the direction
Forensic Importance of Slashes
  1. Generally incised wounds are homicidal, suicidal or occasionally accidental
  2. ‘Hesitations or Tentative cuts’

Small, multiple, superficial and skin deep incised wounds seen at the commencement of a main suicidal incised wound. They usually merge with the main wound. Incised wounds with such hesitation cuts are suicidal.

Stab Wounds (Punctured wounds)

A stab wound is produced by thrusting of any pointed (sharp or blunt) object into the body so that the depth is the greatest dimension of the wound.

Examples include knives, ice pick, dagger, iron bar, scissors, etc.


1.       Perforating Stab Wounds

When the stab wound also makes an exit

2.       Penetrating Stab Wounds

When a body cavity, like abdomen or thorax, is penetrated

3.       Concealed Punctured wounds

Especially in the cases of infanticide, i.e. by inserting needles in the anterior fontanellae or nape of neck.

 Characteristics of Stab Wounds

1.       Entry Wound

Generally it is bigger than the exit. It may be:

  • Wedge shaped
  • Elliptical
  • Rounded
  • Cruciate
  • Irregular

Repetition of a stab wound without complete withdrawal, may show different pattern.

2.       Margins

Margins may show effects of hilt.

3.       Depth and Direction
4.       Exit Wound

If any, it corresponds to the tip of the weapon

5.       Scissors stabs

Z shaped injuries are seen

6.       Gaping of Wound

Wound is slightly shorter than the weapon width, only when wound is inflicted across Langer’s lines.

7.       Scrimmage Enlargement

Extension of the wound due to motion of the weapon or body against the cutting edge.

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