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Lacerations -Types and Forensic Importance

Lacerations are the blunt force injuries in which the skin and the underlying tissues are torn apart due to application of force.

  • The edges of wound are irregular, ragged and often bruised
  • Margins are often abraded due to impact of weapon
  • Strands of the tissues bridge across the deeper parts of a laceration
  • As the blood vessels are crushed usually external hemorrhages may not be marked
  • Foreign material may be found as well
Types of Lacerations

1.       Split Lacerations

Crushing of the skin and subcutaneous tissues between two hard objects, splits them, producing split lacerations (perpendicular impact).

Example includes on the face, scalp, hands and lower legs.

2.       Stretch Lacerations

Overstretching of the skin may tear it, producing a flap of skin in the direction of injury. It results due to tangential impact.

Example is of a laceration on scalp when it hits windscreen in an accident or a laceration due to kicks by a hard boot which raises a skin flap.

3.       Avulsions

Separation of skin due to some grinding compression of the tissues, e.g. a wheel passing over a limb (de-gloving of skin).

4.       Tears

Irregularly directed impact with some blunt object can cause actual tearing of the skin. It is the flaying off. E.g. blows from broken bottles.

5.       Chop Lacerations

These are the lacerations produced by a weapon with sharp heavy edge, such as an axe, or a hatchet. Margins show abrasions and bruising, these are usually homicidal.

Forensic Importance of Lacerations
  1. Lacerations are generally accidental or homicidal
  2. Distribution and shape may help in forensic reconstruction of events
  3. Trace matter may be found in lacerations
Differences between Lacerations and Incised Wounds
Lacerations Incised Wounds
Hair and hair bulbs are crushed Hair and hair bulbs are not crushed
Edges are bruised Edges are not bruised
Base of wound has bridging across muscle fibers No bridging

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