Incised Wounds 

Incised wounds are sharp cut-like injuries, made by knives or broken glass etc.

The edges of the wound will vary according to the nature of the cutting edge of the object, in that a razor will leave regular margins, whereas an axe may leave the wound margins crushed and bruised, resembling a laceration.

Slash Wounds

These are wounds where the length is greater than the depth, eg a slice wound across the skin. If the wound involves major blood vessels, it can be life threatening, but in general, they are not as serious as stab wounds.

Stab Wounds

These are wounds where the depth of injury is greater than the length. They penetrate more deeply than slash wounds and tend to come into contact with vital organs in the chest and abdomen.

Stabbing is the most common mode of homicide in the UK, due to the strict control of guns.

Stab wounds are caused most obviously by knives, but are also caused by bayonets and swords, as well as scissors and even blunter instruments such as screwdrivers.

These type of wounds have the following features,


A Single edged bladed knife (with blade guard or hilt)

Double edged blade on the left hand side, single           edged blade on the right hand side.


It is important to realise that stab wounds can be made with minimal force. The important factor is the sharpness of the tip of the blade - once it has penetrated clothing and skin, remarkably little force is required to follow through and create a deep knife wound. In addition, the faster the stabbing action, the easier it is to penetrate skin.

For a review of stab wounds, see Forensic Science International journal 52: 107 (1991).

 Defence Wounds

A victim of assault can sustain quite characteristic injuries during the course of the assault, as they try to defend themselves, and ward off blows. The photograph illustrates how someone may get wounds on their hands by warding off an attack with a knife.

When warding off knives, the victim usually has multiple incisions across the palmar surfaces of the hands, where attempts have been made to grab the knife blade.

Defence wounds on the hand of a victim of a knife attack

Defence wounds to the forearm of a knife attack victim