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What Is an Incised Wound?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An incised wound is a specific type of injury that has opened the skin. Characterized by a relatively cleanly made cut mark, a person most likely receives this type of wound from a bladed implement like a knife. Incised wounds can be extremely important in forensic science investigations of violent crimes, such as murders. In contrast to this type of wound, an injury that is made by a blunter edge that not only creates an open wound, but damages the tissue around the wound, is called a lacerated wound.

When a doctor refers to damage to the body as a wound, he or she means that the injury arose not from disease but from accidental, or deliberate, physical damage. When the injury does not break the skin, it is called a contused wound. The other major types of wound, which include incised wounds, fall into the category of open wounds, as this means that the skin is broken.

Typically, a person with an incised wound cut himself or herself on an object, or someone else used an implement with an edge sharp enough to cut through the skin of the patient. Common bladed instruments found in the home that could create this form of wound include knives, razors and scissors. Axes and objects that break to form sharp edges, such as glass from a broken window, are possible causes of an incised wound.

In wartime, incised wounds may be due to bayonets, daggers or historically, swords. The sharp-edged instrument can cause a slash wound, where the cut is longer than than it is deep, or a stab wound, where the edge leaves an injury that is deeper than the opening it leaves on the skin. An incised wound may also be a perforating wound, if the cut damage goes deep enough to damage an organ or to go into a cavity of the body under the skin. If the cut extends into the respiratory organs, resulting in a gap where air can move in and out, this is also a sucking wound.

Immediate risks to the health of a person with an incised injury include the chance of blood loss, if the cut is severe or if a major blood vessel is ruptured. When the incision is a perforating or sucking wound, and the organ damage is too great, then the person may die or be severely incapacitated from the injury. A doctor typically closes the wound by applying stitches that hold the edges together. Some wounds may heal up without sutures, and leave an open scar, whereas some require drainage before the wound can be stitched together.

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