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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

TATTOO-MARKS          „                                                  53

procedure. A faint scar may be made more visible by rubbing or slapping,
or by applying heat to the part when the surrounding skin will be red, and
the scar will appear whitish in colour. If necessary, it should be examined
by the aid of a lens. While describing a scar for the purpose of identifica-
tion, its shape, size and situation should be mentioned.

Age of Scars.—It is difficult to tell the exact age of a scar: hence the
medical witness must be very cautious in answering this question which may
connect an accused person with the perpetration of a crime in which he is
alleged to have been wounded. When first formed, a scar is red, tender and
covered by a scab, subsequently it becomes brown, and lastly, on account of
the obliteration of the capillaries due to their being affected by the growth
of connective tissue, it acquires a white and glistening appearance "which
remains permanent for the rest of life. These changes are generally pro-
duced in three to four months, but the variations in the time are SQV great
that it is not safe to fix any time-limit within which these changes are
produced.

Growth of Scars.—Scars produced in childhood grow in size with the
natural development of the individual, especially if situated on the chest
and limbs.

Case.—At the trial of Crippen charged with having murdered his wife, Belle Elmore,
Mr. Pepper and Drs. Spilsbiiry and Willcox were able to establish the identification of
the mutilated remains found buried in a hole dug in the floor of the cellar occupied by
Crippen to be those of his wife by the discovery of an old scar on a piece of skin
measuring seven niches by six inches which came from the lower and front part of the
abdominal wall At its lower margin there was a row of short, dark hairs. The scar
was situated in the middle line commencing just above the pubic region and extending
vertically upwards for four inches or a little over. It was bigger at the bottom, being
seven-eighths of an inch wider than at the top where it tapered to something like one-
fourth of an inch while it measured half-an-inch in middle. It was in a place corres-
ponding with an operation performed for removal of the ovaries or uterus. Mr. Pepper
also said in his evidence that a scar in that position in the male as the result of an
operation performed for removing stones or tumours from the bladder would be "less
likely to be so wide, because, as a rule, there is not so much distension". It was proved
beyond dispute that Belle Elmore had undergone an abdominal operation for ovario-
tomy. It was further brought out in evidence that a scar viewed under a microscope
might show a sebacious gland or a hair follicle, if, in stitching up a wound a piece of
epidermis was turned in and involved in the wound.—Brit. Med. Jour., Oct. 29, 1910,
p. 1372.

10.   TATTOO-MARKS

The practice of tattooing is prevalent all over the world, though more
common among the lower order of society. Designs of all sorts varying
from initials to gods1 of worship and even those indicating emblems of moral
depravity are not only found tattooed on the arm, forearm and chest but
on the other parts of the body. While describing tattoo-marks, their design
and situation should be carefully noted. It Is possible to find the same
design at the same situation in more than one individual, if the operator
happens to be the same person. Complications, such, as septic inflammation,
erysipelas, abscess, gangrene and even syphilis, leprosy and tuberculosis, are
known to have followed this operation.

Disappearance of Tattoo-marks.—Tattoo-marks may disappear during
life without leaving any trace on the body after a period of at least ten years
provided the pigment used is vermilion or ultra-marine and if it has not
penetrated deep into the skin. Even in these cases the pigment may be seen
deposited in the neighbouring lymphatic glands, if examined after death.
But the marks are indelible if some such pigment, as Indian ink, soot, gun-
powder or powdered charcoal, has been used and lias penetrated deep into
the fibre-elastic tissue of the skin. These marks are so permanent, that they
may be recognized even in decomposed bodies after the skin has peeled off,