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An Experimental Model of Tool Mark Striations by a Serrated Blade in Human Soft Tissues

Jacques, Rebekah MD*†; Kogon, Stanley DDS†‡; Shkrum, Michael MD*†

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 59–61
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000078
Original Articles

Tool mark analysis is a method of matching a weapon with the injury it caused. In a homicidal stabbing using a serrated knife, a stab wound that involves a cartilage may leave striations from the serration points on the blade edge. Assessing tissue striations is a means of identifying the weapon as having a serrated blade. This prospective study examines the possibility that similar striations may be produced in human soft tissues. Using tissues taken at the time of hospital-consented autopsies, stab wound tracks were assessed in a variety of human tissues (aorta, skin, liver, kidney, and cardiac and skeletal muscle). Stab wounds were produced postmortem with similar serrated and smooth-edged blades. The walls of the stab wounds were exposed, documented by photography and cast with dental impression material. Striations were identified by naked-eye examination in the skin and aorta. Photodocumentation of fresh tissue was best achieved in the aorta. Striations were not identified in wound tracks produced by the smooth-edged blade. Three blinded forensic pathologists were assessed for their ability to detect striations in photographs of wound tracks and had substantial interobserver agreement (κ = 0.76) identifying striations. This study demonstrates that tool mark striations can be present in some noncartilaginous human tissues.

From the *Department of Pathology, London Health Sciences Centre; †Western University; and ‡School of Dentistry, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, Ontario, Canada

Manuscript received July 24, 2013; accepted October 27, 2013.

Financial support was received through the Pathology Internal Funds for Academic Development.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Michael Shkrum, MD, Department of Pathology, London Health Sciences Centre, University Hospital, 339 Windermere Rd, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5A5. E-mail: mike.shkrum@lhsc.on.ca.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.