Occasionally a decomposing body may show wounds that can be confused with a stab wound. If a "pseudo-stab" wound is misinterpreted then a murder investigation may be begun unnecessarily.


Clinical features:

(1) A decomposing body.

(2) The presence of skin wounds that may look like a stab wound.

(3) A history of recent or sometimes remote surgical incision or trauma at those sites. This information may be missing if the identity is unknown or the medical record cannot be located.


Histologic examination of the wounds may be helpful unless decomposition is far advanced. An old surgical incision should show signs of scarring.


At autopsy there should be no sign of internal injury underlying the stab wounds.


In theory other causes could place similar stresses on the skin, resulting in similar pseudo-wounds.


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