Legal Article

Subcutaneous injuries

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow


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Published on: 30 May, 2023

Subcutaneous injuries refer to injuries that occur beneath the skin but above the underlying tissues. These injuries can result from various causes, including blunt force trauma, lacerations, punctures, or surgical procedures. Here are some common types of subcutaneous injuries:

  1. Contusions: Contusions, or bruises, are a common type of subcutaneous injury. They occur when small blood vessels near the skin’s surface rupture, causing bleeding beneath the skin. Contusions typically appear as areas of discoloration, ranging from reddish to bluish-black, and may be tender to the touch.
  2. Hematomas: Hematomas are localized collections of blood that accumulate beneath the skin due to trauma or injury. They can vary in size and often result from significant force or injury to blood vessels, causing bleeding into the subcutaneous tissue. Hematomas may appear as swollen, tender areas that are bluish or purplish in color.
  3. Seromas: Seromas are pockets of fluid that develop beneath the skin, usually as a result of surgical procedures or trauma. They occur when serous fluid, which normally helps lubricate tissues, accumulates in a closed space. Seromas can present as a fluctuant mass or swelling beneath the skin.
  4. Subcutaneous emphysema: Subcutaneous emphysema occurs when air or gas enters the subcutaneous tissue, often due to trauma, surgical procedures, or certain medical conditions. It leads to the characteristic sensation of crepitus, where a crackling or popping sound can be felt or heard when pressing on the affected area. Subcutaneous emphysema is often accompanied by swelling or puffiness beneath the skin.
  5. Subcutaneous abscess: A subcutaneous abscess is a localized collection of pus beneath the skin. It typically develops as a result of infection, and can be tender, swollen, and warm to the touch. Subcutaneous abscesses require medical attention for drainage and appropriate treatment.

The examination and documentation of subcutaneous injuries in a post-mortem report play a crucial role in understanding the nature and extent of trauma, determining the cause and circumstances of death, and aiding forensic investigations or legal proceedings, if applicable.