Forensic Medicine
Difference Between Lacerated, Stab & Incised Wounds

Difference Between Lacerated, Stab & Incised Wounds

Mechanical injuries are Injuries caused by physical violence to the body. Based on the causative forces, mechanical injuries can be divided into blunt force injury, sharp-edged weapon injuries, and piercing weapon injury. These injuries can be inflicted accidentally, or in situations at work, sports, private life, and so on. Lacerated wounds are due to blunt force, stab wounds are caused by a piercing weapon, and incised wounds are due to a sharp-edged weapon.

Incised wounds are produced by a sharp-cutting weapon. The force when delivered over a very narrow area corresponding with the cutting edge of the blade of the weapon will cause orderly solution of the skin and tissues. Incised wounds can be produced by striking the body with a sharp cutting edge, due to swiping or drawing action of the weapon on the 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.

A lacerated wound is caused by hard and blunt force impact characterized by the splitting or tearing of tissues when the skin loses its elasticity. The laceration is also known as tears or ruptures. The continuity of the tissue is disrupted because of the tearing. There are different types of laceration known as stretch laceration, split laceration, avulsion, tear, crush, and cut lacerations.

Stab wounds are piercing wounds that are produced by the application of mechanical force along the long axis of a narrow or pointed object. These types of wounds can be penetrating or perforating.

Difference Between Lacerated, Stab and Incised Wounds

TraitsLacerated WoundsStab WoundsIncised Wounds
Manner of productionCaused by blunt weapon or objectCan be produced by both blunt or sharp weaponCaused by sharp weapon or object.
SiteMostly over a bony prominenceAnywhere, but commonly seen in the chest and abdomenAnywhere
MarginIrregular and underminedClean-cut and parallel edge. If a blunt weapon is used then it will be lacerated.Smooth, even, Clean-cut, and everted.
Abrasion on EdgesUsually presentAbsentAbsent
BruisingPresent over surrounding and underlying tissuesRareNot generally seen
ShapeUsually irregularLinear or irregularLinear or spindle-shaped
DimensionLonger than deeperDepth will be more than length and breadthOften gaping and longer than deep
Hair bulbCrushed or tornUsually clean cutCleanly cut
HemorrhagesSlight except scalp and externalMostly internalUsually profuse and external. Spurting Of the blood can be seen.
Depth of the woundSmall strands of tissues at the bottom bridge across marginsStructures will be cleanly cut.  Structures will be cleanly cut to the depth of the wound.
BonesMaybe fracturedMaybe puncturedMaybe cut
ClothesMaybe tornMaybe cutMaybe cut
Foreign bodiesMostly presentUsually absentAbsent


The forensic examination of the injuries caused by the different types of blunt or sharp objects is an important section under forensic-medical traumatology.

It is important to know about the features and characteristics of the various types of weapons as they give clues about the type of weapon used, the force of impact, and the manner of death. Careful observation helps to avoid differential diagnosis and helps in the effective investigation process. 

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