Shotgun Wounds

When a shotgun is discharged, the lead shot emerges from the muzzle as a solid mass and then progressively diverges in a cone shape as the distance from the weapon increases. The pellets are often accompanied by particles of unburned powder, flame, smoke, gases, wads, and cards, which may all affect the appearance of the entrance wound and are dependent on the range of fire. Both the estimated range and the site of the wound are crucial factors in determining whether the wound could have been self-inflicted.

If the wound has been sustained through clothing, then important residues may be found on the clothing if it is submitted for forensic examination. It is absolutely essential that the advice of the forensic science team and crime scene investigator is sought when retrieving such evidence. When clothing is being cut off in the hospital, staff should avoid cutting through any apparent holes.

Contact wounds are caused when the muzzle of the weapon is held against the skin. The entrance wound is usually a fairly neat circular hole, the margins of which may be bruised or abraded resulting from impact with the muzzle. In the case of a double-barreled weapon, the circular abraded imprint of the nonfiring muzzle may be clearly seen adjacent to the contact wound. The wound margins and the tissues within the base of the wound are usually blackened by smoke and may show signs of burning owing to the effect of flame. Because the gases from the discharge are forced into the wound, there may be subsidiary lacerations at the wound margin, giving it a stellate-like shape. This is seen particularly where the muzzle contact against the skin is tight and the skin is closely applied to underlying bone, such as in the scalp. Carbon monoxide contained within the gases may cause the surrounding skin and soft tissues to turn pink resulting from the formation of carboxyhemoglobin. Contact wounds to the head are particularly severe, usually with bursting ruptures of the scalp and face, multiple explosive fractures of the skull, and extrusion or partial extrusion of the underlying brain. Most contact wounds of the head are suicidal in nature, with the temple, mouth, and underchin being the sites of election. In these types of wounds, which are usually rapidly fatal, fragments of scalp, skull, and brain tissue may be dispersed over a wide area.

At close, noncontact range with the muzzle up to about 15 cm (6 in) from the skin, the entrance wound is still usually a single circular or oval hole with possible burning and blackening of its margins from flame, smoke, and unburned powder. Blackening resulting from smoke is rarely seen beyond approx 20 cm; tattooing from powder usually only extends to approx 1 m. The wads and cards rarely travel more than approx 2 m.

As distance increases, the pellets begin to diverge. Up to approx 1 m they are still traveling as a compact mass, but between approx 1-3 m, the pellets start to scatter and cause variable numbers of individual satellite puncture wounds surrounding a larger central hole. At ranges greater than 8-10 m, there is no large central hole, only multiple small puncture wounds, giving the skin a peppered appearance.

Exit wounds are unusual with shotgun injuries because the shot is usually dispersed in the tissues. However, the pellets may penetrate the neck or a limb and, in close-range wounds to the head, the whole cranium may be disrupted.

Peripheral Neuropathy Natural Treatment Options

Peripheral Neuropathy Natural Treatment Options

This guide will help millions of people understand this condition so that they can take control of their lives and make informed decisions. The ebook covers information on a vast number of different types of neuropathy. In addition, it will be a useful resource for their families, caregivers, and health care providers.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment