Foreign body material may be forcibly injected into the dermis of a trauma patient. This material can form a permanent tattoo if it is pigmented.


Sources of traumatic tattoo:

(1) gunpowder from a firearm (which can undergo microexplosions if treated with a laser)

(2) fireworks or explosives

(3) battery-operated devices with metal in contact with skin (electrical discharge through metal in contact with skin)

(4) synthetic suture material

(5) vegetable matter

(6) commercial dyes

(7) metal (iron, copper, silver, etc.)

(8) tar or asphalt

(9) carbon

(10) dirt

(11) cement



(1) The material is deposited on exposed skin.

(2) The material has to be driven into the dermis by an explosion, abrasion or other force.

(3) The pattern may be haphazard or take on a pattern (if something masked the deposition).

(4) The material can be seen on X-ray if it is metallic and has a sufficient particle size and concentration.


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.