Practice 10-Minute Consultation

Minor incised traumatic laceration

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 23 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6824

Re: Minor incised traumatic laceration

It is disheartening to see that the use of the correct terminology for wounds and injuries still eludes the medical profession, and this journal (Milroy and Rutty 1997, Irvine 2002).

Cals and de Bont (2013), in their 10-Minute Consultation, describe the injury sustained by the 40 year old man as a laceration (i.e. a tearing or splitting of the skin caused by blunt force trauma), and yet they state that the injury is ‘incised’, and was caused by a knife (i.e. it is caused by sharp force trauma).

I would not regard it as unreasonable to suggest that all qualifying doctors ought to be able to describe the characteristics of wounds and injuries, using the correct medicolegal terminology, and be able to determine the most likely mechanism involved in their causation.

All final year medical undergraduate students at Cardiff University School of Medicine receive lectures covering the pathology of trauma, including wound and injury interpretation, and an optional Student Selected Component (SSC) can be taken by second year students, in which practical wound and injury classification and interpretation is incorporated into a 5 day experiential learning opportunity. This teaching and learning also explores the interpretation of patterns of blunt and sharp force injury, and a consideration of whether wounds and injuries might have been inflicted by another person.

I would be delighted to hear from other interested medical educators on how best to incorporate simple, yet essential, teaching and learning of wounds and injuries into undergraduate medicolegal curricula.


Milroy CM, Rutty GN. If a wound is “neatly incised”, it is not a laceration. BMJ 1997;315:1312

Irvine AJ. Incisions are not lacerations. BMJ 2002;325:1113-1114

Cals JWL, de Bont EGPM. 10-Minute Consultation: Minor incised traumatic laceration. BMJ 2013;346:38-39 (e6824)

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 January 2013
Richard M Jones
Clinical Senior Lecturer in Forensic Pathology
Wales Institute of Forensic Medicine
University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, Wales, CF14 4XN