• Muhammad Tahir Khadim
  • Sheeba Ishtiaq
  • Usman Hassan
  • Sajid Mushtaq
  • Shahnawar Gulzar


Objective: To provide information about details of firearm injuries as observed during autopsies performed at the Department of Histopathology AFIP,Rawalpindi,Pakistan.

Material and Methods:  This was a descriptive study. A total of 300 autopsies carried out during the years (Sep 2005 – Dec 2008) were retrieved from the autopsy record of Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,Rawalpindi. Out of these, 28 autopsies were performed after death due to firearm injuries. The variables selected were: age of deceased, time of death, weapon used, number and site of entry and exit wounds, mode of death and distance of the used firearm from the body at the time of gunshot as indicated in circumstantial evidence.

Results: Out of total of 300 autopsies, 28(9.33%) died of gunshot injuries. Most deaths occurred in the 3rd decade (67.9%). Most of the subjects had single (60.7%) entry wound while half had a single (50%) exit wound. Most of the entry wounds (60.7%) had diameter < 2cm and exit wounds (35.7%) had a maximum diameter in the range of 2-5cm. Most frequent used weapon was rifle (82.1%). Anterior chest (n=12) (42.9%) sustained the highest number of injuries. In suicidal deaths, heart and left lung (n= 4) (57.14%) were most commonly hit anatomical site. The weapon was in contact with the body at the time of gunshot in all suicidal deaths. The distance was less than ten meters in accidental deaths (7.1%). Out of 6 (21.4%) homicidal deaths, distance was in the range of 100-200 meters in 3(50%) cases and 300-400 meters in remaining 3(50%) cases.

Conclusion: Mode of death (suicidal/homicidal/accidental) could not be determined on postmortem examination only. Circumstantial evidence was necessary in the assistance of these findings. All details of firearm wounds including site, size, shape and appearance of surrounding tissue are required to be documented in autopsy reports to ascertain the exit and entry wounds. The detailed description of wounds provided additional information to ascertain possible distance of weapon from body and help in confirming mode of death.

Key Words:  Autopsy, Gunshot wounds