Gunshot Wounds


This is a thread that has been around for a while and I have meant to talk about it a dozen times but always get going on something else and forget. The link takes you to a thread on a website that has many high quality images of gun shot wounds from a variety of distance and positions on the body. They are GRAPHIC. If you can’t stand the sight of carnage it’s best if you skip it. Another thing, I have seen some people say the site triggers their computer’s virus alert. I have never had a problem with it and it has never caused any problems for me but, just in case, I warn you.

Entrance wounds: A typical entrance wound has a round or ovalshaped skin defect, surrounded by a rim of abrasion. This rim is
variably referred to as an ‘‘abrasion collar’’ or a ‘‘circumferential marginal abrasion’’ (the ‘‘margin’’ of the wound being the edge
or rim). The width of the marginal abrasion can provide an indication of the relative angle of the bullet as it enters the skin. If the marginal abrasion is of a consistent width, then the bullet
entered the skin in a relatively perpendicular fashion. If a bullet goes through something else prior to striking the skin, it is said to have passed through an ‘‘intermediary’’ or ‘‘interposed’’ target.
Depending on the characteristics of the interposed target, the bullet may produce an irregularly shaped wound with wide marginal abrasions known as an ‘‘atypical entrance wound.’’

Range of fire: Entrance wounds can vary in their overall appearance based on the ‘‘range of fire’’ (how far the muzzle of the weapon is from the target/skin). In ‘‘contact wounds’’ that
occur over the skull, the explosive gases and smoke that discharge from the weapon can dissect between the skin and the bone in the area immediately surrounding the entrance defect,
causing a ‘‘stellate’’ or ‘‘starburst’’ appearance. Many contact wounds (of whatever location) have associated charring of the skin, with soot deposited within the depths of the wound. Some
contact wounds have ‘‘muzzle imprint abrasions.’’ If a weapon’s muzzle is close to, but not in contact with the skin, then soot and gunpowder will be evident around the entrance skin defect.
These wounds may be referred to as ‘‘close-range’’ entrance wounds. The soot can sometimes be washed away, but the gunpowder particles actually strike and injure (and sometimes
become embedded within) the skin, and cannot be washed away. The resulting marks are referred to as ‘‘gunpowder stipple marks’’ or ‘‘gunpowder tattooing.’’ With most handguns, soot
in combination with gunpowder stippling around gunshot entrance wounds can occur when the muzzle of the weapon is up to about 12 in. from the skin. ‘‘Medium’’ (or ‘‘intermediate’’) range gunshot entrance wounds are characterized by gunpowder stippling, but no soot surrounding the entrance defect. These typically occur when the weapon is greater than 12 in. but less than about 3 ft from the skin. Once the weapon is more than about 3 ft from the skin (or clothing) surface, gunpowder particles do not typically have enough energy to actually produce
stipple injuries. Gunshot entrance wounds with no associated soot or gunpowder stippling are referred to as ‘‘distant’’ wounds, meaning more than about 3 ft. A better term that is preferred by many forensic pathologists is ‘‘indeterminate,’’ since closer range shots where the soot and gunpowder is totally blocked by clothing or other interposed target may produce identical appearing wounds.

Exit wounds: Exit wounds from low-velocity firearms tend to be relatively small, and they can have a variety of shapes, ranging from slit-like to comma-shaped to X-shaped to irregularly
shaped. Exit wounds may or may not have central, round to oval defects, but the typical exit wound does not have marginal abrasions. With low-velocity ammunition, it is not infrequent
for bullets to lack enough energy to actually exit the body, especially when small-caliber ammunition is utilized. Highvelocity exit wounds tend to be very large and destructive.

Graze wounds: Graze gunshot wounds (those that strike the skin surface in a tangential fashion) are not uncommon. They can
range from wounds that only injure the very superficial layers of the epidermis to those that completely disrupt the epidermis and also injure the underlying dermis, and possibly the subcutaneous fatty tissues. The typical grazewound has an elongated oval shape.
In certain instances, the direction of the graze wound can be determined based on the characteristics of the graze wound.

High-velocity wounds: Many of the features of high-velocity wounds related to range of fire and general features of wound types are similar to those of low-velocity wounds, with some
noted exceptions. Many high-velocity entrance wounds do not have a significant marginal abrasion. Instead, they frequently demonstrate multiple marginal microlacerations. High-velocity
exit wounds tend to be quite large and destructive, sometimes occurring as multiple exit sites. X-ray examination of highvelocity wounds from bullets that fragment characteristically show what is described as a ‘‘lead snowstorm’’ appearance.

Shotgun wounds: There are two basic types of projectiles that can be fired from a shotgun: shot pellets (birdshot and buckshot)
and slugs. Some of the features of shotgun wounds are similar to those described with low-velocity gunshot wounds, but there are many additional features that deserve attention.
Contact wounds, particularly of the head, are extremely devastating, whether birdshot, buckshot, or slugs are used.
The appearance of shotgun wounds utilizing pellets varies depending on the range of fire. At close range, there is a single round to oval defect with smooth borders. As the distance from
muzzle to skin lengthens, the borders become scalloped, then ‘‘satellite’’ individual pellet wounds occur around a central defect, and, finally, only many individual separate pellet wounds
occur, with no central defect. Measuring the diameter of the pellet spread pattern on the skin surface can assist in estimating the range of fire, no matter what the size of pellet used. Injuries
from wadding may also occur.


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