Incisions

These wounds are caused by sharp cutting implements, usually bladed weapons, such as knives and razors, but sharp slivers of glass, the sharp edges of tin cans, and sharp tools, such as chisels, may also cause clean-cut incised injuries. Axes, choppers, and other similar instruments, although capable of cutting, usually cause lacerations because the injury caused by the size of the instrument (e.g., axe head) overrides the cutting effect of the tool. Mixed wounds are common, with some incised element, some laceration, bruising, and swelling and abrasion also present. Each element of the injury must be documented. Machetes and other large-blade implements are being used, producing large deep cuts known as slash or chop injuries.

The features of an incision contrast with those of a laceration (see Fig. 7). The margins tend to be straight, unbruised, unabraded, and not inverted. They gape, and the deeper tissues are all cut cleanly in the same plane. Hemorrhage tends to be greater than from similarly located lacerations. If the blade of the weapon is drawn across the skin while it is lax, it may cause a notched wound if the skin creases. The direction of travel of the blade of the weapon is not always easy to decide, but usually the deeper part of the wound is near the end that was inflicted first, the weapon tending to be drawn away toward the end of the wound.

The head and neck are usual targets when an assailant inflicts incised wounds. In an attempt to ward off the assailant, the arms are often raised in a protective gesture and incisions are then often seen on the ulnar borders of the forearms. If the blade of the weapon is grasped, then incised wounds are apparent on the palmar surfaces of the fingers. Such injuries are known as defense wounds.

Incised wounds may be a feature of suicide or attempted suicide (see Subheading 3.6.). They are usually located on the wrists, forearms, or neck, although other accessible areas on the front of the body may be chosen. The incisions usually take the form of multiple parallel wounds, most of them being tentative and superficial; some may be little more than simple linear abrasions.

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