WOUNDS ESTFLICTED DUKESTG LIFE AND AFTER DEATH
wounds, and is found infiltrated in the cellular and muscular tissues. There
is consequent staining of the edges of the wounds and the neighbouring
tissues, which cannot be removed by w^s^ng. but the staining caused by
the blood effused from post-mortem wounds is easily removed by washing.
There win be $&s of the effused blood in the wounds and tissues, and
in the neighbourhood of the body. Clotting of the blood occurs normally
in about five to ten minutes.
There will also be signs of spouting of arterial blood on the body,
clotting, or in its vicinity.
In a contusion there will be the presence of ecchymosis, absorption'
changes of its colour and a swelling of the neighbouring tissue. On dissec-
tion coagulated blood will be found in the subcutaneous tissues.
2. Eetraction of the Edges of the Wound.—Owing to the vital reaction
of the skin and muscular fibres the edges of a wound inflicted during life
retract and cause the wound to gape. OH the other hand, in the case of a
wound inflicted long after death when the body heat has passed oS the
edges do not gape, but are closely approximated to each other, as the skin
and other tissues have lost their contractility.
3. Signs of Inflammation and Reparative Processes.—These are the
signs of vital reaction and will depend upon the period that an individual
has survived the infliction of a wound. For instance, tumefaction of the
edges and leucocytic infiltration will show that the wound was inflicted
within a few hours before death, while the presence of pus, granulation
tissue or scab will definitely prove that the wound was inflicted some days
The absence of the above signs will show that the wound was inflicted
after death; however, it must be borne in mind that haemorrhage and
retraction of the edges may take place in a wound caused within one to
two hours after death during the molecular life of the tissues, when the
body is still warm. In such a case haemorrhage is slight, unless a large
vein is cut and there is no arterial spouting or formation of a firm clot which
rarely occurs ten minutes after death. In a doubtful case it is desirable to
preserve a portion of the wound for microscopic examination.
Table showing the Distinction, between Ante-mortem and
1. Haemorrhage, more or less copious
and generally arterial.
2. Marks of spouting of blood from
3. Clotted blood.
4. Deep staining of the edges and cel-
lular tissues, which is not removed
5. The edges gape owing to the reaction
of the skin and muscle fibres.
6. Inflammation and reparative pro-
1. Haemorrhage, slight or none at all
and always venous.
2. Ho spouting of blood.
3. Blood is not clotted; if at all it is a
4. The edges and cellular tissues are not
deeply stained. The staining can be
removed by washing.
5. The edges do not gape, but are closely
approximated to each other,
the wound is caused within one
two hours after death.
6. No inflammation o