Patterned injuries

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      A patterned injury is one which has a distinct pattern that may reproduce the characteristics of the object causing the injury. The pattern may be caused by impact of a weapon or other object on the body, or by contact of the body with a patterned surface.
      Injuries can be subdivided according to the type of force involved:
      • 1.
        Blunt force injuries
        These are the most commonly seen group of patterned injuries. Abrasions may preserve patterns well, especially if the force is applied at or near perpendicular to the skin surface. Bruises may also reproduce patterns well, particularly if they are mainly intradermal. Lacerations less frequently show a well defined reproduction of the shape of the injuring agent.
      • 2.
        Sharp force injuries
        Knife wounds may show class characteristics of a specific type of blade (e.g., ‘fish-tail’ appearance of a stab wound). Stab wounds duetoother types ofpatterned instruments (e.g., Phillips head screwdrivers, scissors) may produce distinctive patterns.
      • 3.
        Gunshot wounds
        Contact entry wounds (which may have sight marks) and shotgun wounds (e.g., with wad marks) may produce distinct patterened injuries.
      • 4.
        Other miscellaneous wounds and marks e.g., fern-like pattern with lightning strikes, toolmarks on internal structures (such as cartilage).
      The medicolegal importance of patterned injuries is in linking a particular weapon or other object to an injury. This may allow a perpetrator to be linked to the crime and/or enable better understanding of the events surrounding a death.
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