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Forensic Autopsy

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Deaths resulting from blunt force trauma are the most common cases in forensic autopsy. However, it is imperative to note that some factors contribute to the actual death of the victim, leading to a contradiction of whether the cause of death was sharp force or blunt trauma related. For instance, a patient hospitalised after having had a car accident and died three weeks after hospitalization, having caught pneumonia would likely give the results that the patient died out of pneumonia. However, such is not the case. In the forensic autopsy, the cause of death should be categorised as blunt force trauma, categorically belonging to the cause “accident” (Prahlow, 2010). Therefore, because of the contradictions that occur in such autopsies, it is paramount to take note of the differences exhibited by blunt force trauma wounds and sharp force trauma injuries.

Injuries caused by blunt force have the following characteristics. Firstly, blunt force inflicted wounds have abrasions on the skin epithelium. This arises as the result of the sliding force between the surface and the blunt objects, pressure or compression (Prahlow, 2010). Secondly, such injuries might show patterned abrasions, the phenomenon in which the wounds pattern is transferred to the intermediary between the skin and the blunt object, such as clothes. These forms of wounds can be used to identify weapons as the sources of blunt trauma injuries (Riviello, 2010). Thirdly, antemorten abrasions are usually red-brown in color due to the flow of blood while post-mortem abrasions are transparent or yellow due to the absence of blood flow (Prahlow & Byard, 2012). Fourthly, blunt force injuries can also be differentiated by the use of contusions. These refers to the bleeding evidenced on the skin due to ruptured blood vessels and can also be patterned, according to the blunt force pattern and contact with the skin. Finally, blunt force wounds have lacerations (Prahlow, 2010). This refers to a tear of tissues closer to the bone due to the impact generated by both the blunt object and the bone.

Contrary to laceration, abrasion and contusions in blunt force injury wounds, sharp force wounds are different in nature (Prahlow & Byard, 2012). This is because sharp trauma injuries can arise from stab, chopping or incision. Stab wounds have sharp margins. They can also be identified by evidence of broken tips of the sharp weapon if it came into contact with the hard bone. This is a comparison to laceration that usually occurs on the muscles covering the bone in blunt force injuries (Riviello, 2010). When done with excessive force, the sharp object leaves a patterned but sharp abrasion on the wound, aiding in its identity. Additionally, sharp induced injuries arising from suicide leave hesitation marks on the victim’s skin. In incised stabs, defence stabs can also be noted in the extensor muscles and the arm surfaces of the victim if the cause is homicidal (Riviello, 2010). Similarly, sharp trauma wounds can be differentiated from the blunt trauma ones in that they also appear as chopped or incised. This is in contrast to blunt force injuries that appear as abrased, lacerated and contusioned.

Finally, this brings us to the conclusion that sharp force injuries cause stab wounds, chop and incised wounds while blunt force trauma injuries leave lacerated, abrasioned, contusioned and patterned wounds.

Reference List

Prahlow, J. A. (2010). Forensic pathology for police, death investigators, and forensic scientists. Totowa, NJ: Humana.

Prahlow, J. A., & Byard, R. W. (2012). Atlas of forensic pathology. New York: Springer.

Riviello, R. J. (2010). Manual of forensic emergency medicine: A guide for clinicians. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.…...

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