n CME : Your SA Journal of CPD - Medico-legal importance of the correct interpretation of traumatic skin injuries : main article

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2170



The definition of a skin wound or injury is related to the type of damage to the skin caused by the application of mechanical force. <BR>Although doctors are not expected to comment on the manner of application of the injuries, accurate description and, in certain instances, measurement of these wounds are essential in medico-legal proceedings as a consequence of these injuries. <BR>A laceration is caused by a blunt object stretching and eventually tearing the skin. underlying structures such as nerves and blood vessels may also be torn, usually at the site of maximum impact, rarely at the ends of the laceration. <BR>Blunt trauma applied to a particular area causes stretching and subsequent rupture of capillary blood vessels in the underlying soft tissue, resulting in a bruise or contusion. <BR>Abrasions are traumatic injuries to the superficial layers of the skin and are caused by a rough object scraping over the surface of the skin or by a person moving into contact with a blunt surface. <BR>Incised wounds are characterised by being longer on the surface of the body than they are deep, and are usually caused by a swiping action rather than by a stabbing thrust. <BR>Stab wounds are caused by sharp force injuries which cause the wounds to be deeper than they are long. <BR>Chop wounds are caused by heavy instruments with sharp edges, such as axes and machetes. <BR>Examples of diagnostic or therapeutic wounds include surgical incisions that might have the appearance of stab wounds, including incisions for insertion of intercostal drains, 'cutdowns' for deep veins and tracheostomy incisions.

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