Incised wounds are otherwise known as slash or a cut. It is a type of mechanical injury that is produced by a sharp cutting weapon. The force when delivered over a very narrow area corresponding with the cutting edge of a blade of the weapon will cause orderly solution of the skin and tissues.
Injuries like glassing injury, defense wounds are also included under the incised wound. Incised wounds can be produced by striking the body with a sharp cutting edge, due to swiping or drawing action of the weapon on body which will produce tailing at one end of the wound, or by sawing. The sawing action will produce multiple wounds on the skin at the beginning which will all merge into one at the end.
If it is an antemortem injury then it will show signs of healing which it is accomplished with the regeneration and repair process. The blood fills in the gap and then clots over time. Polymorphs will appear which gets replaced by macrophages by the 3rd day. By the end of 48 hours, the wound gets covered by a layer of epithelium. By the 5th-day collagen fibrils start forming and in four weeks the scar tissue with the epithelialized surface is formed.
Features of Incised Wounds
- As there will be a retraction of the tissues, the width of the incised wound will be greater than the edge of the weapon causing it.
- These wounds are mostly spindle-shaped and gaping but if it is inflicted on a region with lax tissue like the skin of the scrotum or axilla, then the wound will be zig-zagged.
- The length of the wound will be greater than the depth of the wound.
- The margins will be clean-cut, well-defined, and everted. If the wound is present on the thin layers of muscle fibers that are closely attached to the skin like in the scrotum, then the margins may be inverted.
- Deeper tissues are all cut cleanly in the same plane.
- The length of the wound has no relation with the length of the cutting edge of weapon.
- When incised wounds are inflicted in regions with loose skin as in the axilla or scrotum, the wound will be irregular due to puckering of the skin that occurs at the time of cutting the tissue.
- Incised wounds can indicate the direction in which the weapon was drawn off because the starting end is deeper as it narrows and becomes shallow towards the end like tailing.
- Blood vessels are cut cleanly which do not retract effectively and hence they bleed more and hemorrhages are more in incised wounds than lacerated wounds.
- When the weapon is stuck obliquely on the body part, it will cause the beveling of one edge and undermining of the other edge. This undermining helps to establish the direction from which the slashing stroke was made.
The medicolegal importance of incised wound is that the cause of injury, nature of injury, age of the injury, and manner of death can be estimated. The direction of the application of force can also be known. Incised wounds can be confused with lacerated wounds and hence careful understanding and observation should be done while examining the injuries.