Modern crossbows are dangerous weapons. The risk can be further increased by using special darts that can inject a poison into the victim.


The syringe dart consists of:

(1) a hypodermic needle as tip

(2) a small syringe as the body

(3) stabilizing fins at the end (fit into syringe)

(4) spring-loaded internal plunger that forces out the syringe contents on contact


The syringe can contain any type of drug or poison. This may include cyanide, a muscle relaxant such as succinylcholine or a strong sedative.


Because the contents of the syringe are concentrated, loading and handling the darts can be hazardous to the shooter as well as to the victim. The danger also can extend to anyone finding and handling the dart after discharge.


The entry point of the hypodermic needle tip may be very small and easily overlooked. However, subcutaneous tissue at the site may show extensive hemorrhage due to high pressure at the impact site.


Factors that can result in failure to correctly diagnose the condition:

(1) failure to find the syringe

(2) failure to find the needle entry point

(3) failure of the victim to communicate with someone else or an unwitnessed attack

(4) failure to identify the specific drug or toxin used

(5) failure to recognize the significance of relatively minor findings at autopsy


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