An anthropological analysis of gunshot wounds to the chest

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15 Scopus citations


This analysis of gunshot trauma to the bony thorax examines 87 handgun and rifle wounds from documented cases in an effort to corroborate an earlier report and to provide the forensic community with additional literature in this area. Specifically, this study tests whether the trauma signatures associated with gunshot wounds in the bony thorax are useful in determining the direction of fire. Because the ribs occupy a significant portion of the bony thorax, they are struck more frequently than other bones and, consequently, they are the focus of this report. This study confirmed that bullets can leave distinctive markers on ribs that indicate the direction of fire, including depressed fractures, bone fragments displaced in the direction of the bullet's path, and beveling. Although forensic anthropologists can determine the direction that a bullet was traveling when it struck a given rib, they cannot give a definitive statement about the number or sequence of gunshots without supporting soft tissue evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-537
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic science
  • Gunshot wounds
  • High-velocity trauma
  • Skeletal trauma
  • Thorax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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