Document Detail

Symmetrical "mirror-image" injuries and the "chessboard" pattern: useful markers of self-mutilation.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17721179     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The evaluation of injuries due to self-mutilation may be complicated by atypical lesions and fabricated histories of the causative events. Four cases are described where one of the most striking findings was the presence of "mirror-image" injuries and/or a "chessboard" pattern of intersecting parallel lines from self-inflicted incised wounds. Case 1: A 32-year-old man was dead in his burnt-out car, with symmetrical, "mirror-image", circular burns from the car cigarette lighter over his forehead, cheeks, ears, upper and lower arms, the dorsal and palmar aspects of the hands, the anterior chest wall including the nipples, the anterior abdomen, thighs, lower legs, and the back of his neck. The deceased had a history of psychotic depression and had died of burns and inhalation of products of combustion. Case 2: A 19-year-old woman who fabricated a history of assault demonstrated multiple, superficial, "mirror-image" injuries of her thighs and forearms. Case 3: A 32-year-old man who exsanguinated from cut wrists showed multiple, superficial, and "mirror-image" incised wounds of the wrists, with a "chessboard" pattern. Case 4: A 26-year-old man died after jumping from a building. He had multiple superficial, "mirror-image" incised wounds of his anterior chest and thighs, with a typical "chessboard" pattern. Given the difficulties that sometimes arise in determining whether injuries have been self-inflicted or not, the finding of symmetrical "mirror-image" injuries, and/or a "chessboard" pattern formed by 2 groups of regular, parallel, superficial incised wounds running at right angles to each other provides compelling evidence of self-mutilation, unless a plausible alternative explanation is available.
Roger W Byard; John D Gilbert; Michael Tsokos
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Case Reports; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology     Volume:  28     ISSN:  0195-7910     ISO Abbreviation:  Am J Forensic Med Pathol     Publication Date:  2007 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-08-27     Completed Date:  2007-12-07     Revised Date:  2011-02-02    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8108948     Medline TA:  Am J Forensic Med Pathol     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  255-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
Discipline of Pathology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.
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MeSH Terms
Forensic Psychiatry
Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis*
Skin / injuries*,  pathology*
Wounds, Penetrating / pathology*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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