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Action Of Poisons; Classification Of Poisons

Arsenic And Its Preparations


Gunshot Wounds





These may be punctured, contused, or lacerated. Round balls make a
larger opening than those which are conical. Small shot fired at a short
distance make one large ragged opening; while at distances greater than
3 feet the shot scatter and there is no central opening. The Lee-Metford
bullet is more destructive than the Mauser. The former is the larger,
but the difference in size is not great. The Martini-Henry bullet
weighs 480 grains, the Lee-Metford 215, and the Mauser 173. Speaking
generally, a gunshot wound, unlike a punctured wound, becomes larger as
it increases in depth; the aperture of entrance is round, clean, with
inverted edges, and that of exit larger, less regular than that of
entrance, and with everted edges.

In the case of high-velocity bullets from smooth-bore rifles, including
the Mauser and Lee-Metford, the aperture of entry is small; the aperture
of exit is slightly larger, and tends to be more slit-like. There is but
little tendency to carry in portions of clothing or septic material, and
the wound heals by first intention, if reasonable precautions be taken.
The external cicatrices finally look very similar to those produced by
bad acne pustules.

The contents of all gunshot wounds should be preserved, as they may be
useful in evidence. A pocket revolver, as a rule, leaves the bullet in
the body.

Wounds inflicted by firearms may be due to accident, homicide, or
suicide. Blackening of the wound, singeing of the hair, scorching of the
skin and clothing, show that the weapon was fired at close quarters,
whilst blackening of the hand points to suicide. Even when the weapon is
fired quite close there may be no blackening of the skin, and the hand
is not always blackened in cases of suicide. Smokeless powder does not
blacken the skin. Wounds on the back of the body are not usually
self-inflicted, but a suicide may elect to blow off the back of his
head. A wound in the back may be met with in a sportsman who indulges in
the careless habit of dragging a loaded gun after him. If a revolver is
found tightly grasped in the hand it is probably a case of suicide,
whilst if it lies lightly in the hand it may be suicide or homicide. If
no weapon is found near the body, it is not conclusive proof that it is
not suicide, for it may have been thrown into a river or pond, or to
some distance and picked up by a passer-by.

A bullet penetrating the skull even from a distance of 3,000 yards may
act as an explosive, scattering the contents in all directions; but the
bullet from a revolver will usually be found in the cranium.

The prognosis depends partly on the extent of the injury and the parts
involved, but there is also risk from secondary hæmorrhage, and from
such complications as pleurisy, pericarditis, and peritonitis. Death may
result from shock, hæmorrhage, injury to brain or important nervous
structures.





Next: Wounds Of Various Parts Of The Body

Previous: Incised Wounds And Those Accompanied By Solution Of Continuity



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