Incised wounds

Incised wounds follow sharp force trauma and maybe divided into stab (or puncture) wounds and cuts (or slash) wounds. A stab wound is deeper than it is long but a cut is longer than it is deep. The shape of the wound can sometimes give an indication of the type of object used to inflict it, eg a knife or sharp edge of a broken glass, but this may be difficult to determine in slash wounds. An incised wound can be caused by anything sharp which impacts the body with sufficient force to penetrate the skin. Wounds from heavy blades such as axes and machetes can have components of both lacerations and incised wounds.

Incised wounds typically exhibit the following characteristics:

  • The skin wound is often linear, but can be jagged and irregular for example if caused by broken glass or bottles or if the knife has moved in the wound
  • The wound edges are cleanly divided
  • There is often no adjacent bruising of the skin edges
  • Hair follicles are cleanly cut
  • The wound bleeds when the injury is sustained. Bleeding can be heavy if vessels are involved.

Figure 11: Slash wounds to the leg.

Figure 12: A stab wound.