Friday, 11 May 2012

Emedinews:Insights on Medicolegal Issues:How can the direction of firearm be determined from the bullet track?

I have observed many surgeons to opine the direction of fire arm missile on the basis of the position of wound track. A bullet usually travels through the tissues in a straight line, so that the direction of fire may be determined from its track. But sometimes, a bullet may be deflected from its course; this occurs most commonly when it strikes a bone while passing through the tissues. It can also occur due to the inherent instability of a bullet as it penetrates tissues, and it may undergo changes of direction within the soft tissues in its track. This is illustrated by a case in which a man was struck by a bullet, which traveled through the tissues in the following order: gall bladder, hepatic flexure of colon, duodenum, pancreas, inferior vena cava, then passed medially through the bony part of the vertebral column, to strike the left kidney, spleen and pass through the diaphragm and pericardium, before coming to rest in the chest cavity. The only part of the track of bullet which was in a straight line was through the vertebral column, and sharp bends occurred in the soft tissue track before and after.

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