Wound Pattern Analysis

shotgun_wound_to_abdomen.jpg
Shotgun wound victim.
Wound pattern analysis is an important aspect of forensic profiling. It can be used in crime scene reconstruction, as well as weapon identification, and psychological profiling.
Aside from physical examination, tools such as CT (Computer Tomography) can be used in order to determine patterns and the extent of damage.
Using analysis of gunshot wounds, a number of things can be determined. This includes distance of the shooter from the victim, whether or not the victim was alive when he was shot and the type of gun used in the shooting.

For example, depending on the presence of 'powder tattooing' around a wound, examiners can determine how close the firearm was to the victim when it was discharged. Close range shots will disperse powder into the wound and burn the skin around the entrance wound. Intermediate-range shots can still leave some powder burning, but it is usually lighter. Distant gunshot wounds will leave no marks, other than the actual entrance/exit wounds.

Further, reddish-brown to orange-red powder tattooing indicates that the wound was sustained whilst the victim was alive. Post mortem wounds are indicated by gray or yellow marks.

Sources:
"http://www.relentlessdefense.com/gunshot.wounds.html", (2/10/2009)
Nelson, Craig L., Et al, A new Typer of Shotgun Ammunition Produces Unique Wound Characteristics, Journal of Forensic Science, 2007, Vol 52. No. 1
Image from: http://www.pathguy.com/lectures/env-23.htm