Investigation of the force associated with the formation of lacerations and skull fractures

Sharkey, E. J. and Cassidy, M. and Brady, J. and Gilchrist, M. D. and NicDaeid, N. (2012) Investigation of the force associated with the formation of lacerations and skull fractures. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 126 (6). pp. 835-844. ISSN 0937-9827 (

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Post-mortem examination is often relied upon in order to determine whether a suspicious death was natural, accidental, suicidal or homicidal. However, in many cases the mechanism by which a single injury has been inflicted cannot be determined with certainty based on pathological examination alone. Furthermore the current method of assessing applied force relating to injury is restricted to an arbitrary and subjective scale (mild, moderate, considerable, or severe). This study investigates the pathophysiological nature of head injuries caused by blunt force trauma, specifically in relation to the incidence and formation of a laceration. An experimental model was devised to assess the force required to cause damage to the scalp and underlying skull of porcine specimens following a single fronto-parietal impact. This was achieved using a drop tower equipped with adapted instrumentation for data acquisition. The applied force and implement used could be correlated with resultant injuries and as such aid pathological investigation in the differentiation between falls and blows. Experimentation revealed prevalent patterns of injury specific to the reconstructed mechanism involved. It was found that the minimum force for the occurrence of a laceration was 4,000 N.