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An Experimental Model of Tool Mark Striations in Soft Tissues Produced by Serrated Blades

Pounder, Derrick J. FRCPA; Cormack, Lesley BMSc

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 1 - p 90-92
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181edf2de
Original Articles

Stab wounds produced by serrated blades are generally indistinguishable from stab wounds produced by nonserrated blades, except when visible tool mark striations are left on severed cartilage. We explored the possibility that similar striations may be produced on the soft tissues of internal organs. Loin of beef, bovine kidney, and pig heart, liver, and aorta were each stabbed 20 times with a coarsely serrated blade. The walls of the stab tracks were exposed and documented by photography, cast with dental impression material, and the casts photographed. Striations were identified in all of the tissues in every stabbing, but their consistency and quality varied between tissues. Striations were most easily seen in liver, heart, and aorta. Tool mark striations in soft tissues other than cartilage have not been described in homicidal stabbings, likely because they have not been sought. We suggest that the walls of stab wound tracks should be exposed, and tissue striations should be sought as a means of identifying the weapon as having a serrated blade.

From the Centre for Forensic and Legal Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Manuscript received August 3, 2009; accepted September 18, 2009.

Correspondence: Derrick J. Pounder, FRCPA, Centre for Forensic and Legal Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland, United Kingdom. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.