View Full Version : Blood flow anatomy question

06-11-2009, 06:18 AM
I made a similar topic in the science forum, but was told I'd get better results here.

At the end of my story, my MC is in a very close life or death situation, and the only way out of it was to make a fairly deep wound in the side of his neck. It's an elven magic thing, and the only way he could end the spell was with his iron knife.

How lethal would such a wound be? I made special mention that it wasn't anywhere near the jugular, he aimed for the muscular area instead. Would he be in serious trouble really fast, or could he realistically make it to a nearby hospital? I'm pretty sure he'd have to make a visit to the hospital, but the part relevant to the story is could he take his sweet time going the hospital, or would he be passing out? Or am I completely wrong, his blood would clot like a regular injury, and he'd be fine?

Not sure if it makes a difference, but he was being choked almost to death right before he injured himself.

06-11-2009, 08:24 AM
Presumably he stuck the knife straight in, rather than slice across? Hard to miss the jugular vein and carotid artery if he made a deep transverse cut in the cut. Poking it straight in he might miss anything important if he's very, very lucky, or magical. There is no "muscular area". If he's magic, why does he need a hospital? Can't he just heal himself?

06-11-2009, 09:52 AM
It's a vertical cut, and he himself isn't magical, his opponent is.

I looked it up on wikipedia, and it turns out I overestimated the coverage the unpronounceable muscles in the neck are.

06-11-2009, 04:51 PM
Yeah, there's just a couple of muscles around the spine, and of course the jugular and the carotid artery. The problem with the jugular is it's shallow and blood won't go to the heart (and then the rest of the body ofc). The problem with cutting a carotid is you don't get blood to that half of the brain.

The problem with stabbing the vertebra is you either hit the bone and maybe fracture a process (pointy bit) or you go right through and sever the spinal chord. Do it high enough and you stop breathing and die in a few minutes. Lower in the neck ain't so hot either.

Clear as mud, right?

06-11-2009, 04:53 PM
I found a pretty good medical illustration (http://themedicalfile.com/portImages/pletsch/anerior_neck_anatomy.jpg) that suggests that luck, or skill, might damage only the muscle if the knife went in vertically in the magically right place. Essentially, he'd have to cut mainly the big muscle that sticks out, running from behind the ear to the collar bone, when you turn your head quite far.

Maryn, not volunteering

06-11-2009, 04:53 PM
PS- Neck muscles are easy to pronounce compared to a lot of the other crazy latin and greek terms in medicine ;) And most of them make sense, too.

Didn't prevent me from forgetting most of them. Yet another thing to review, yay.

06-11-2009, 04:59 PM
On further reflection, you might have to find a different spot for your elven magic thing. A shallow knife wound to just one muscle ain't that impressive.

Can you gut him and heal him later? Stab a lung without hitting any major vessels (Dogs do pretty well with just one lung for awhile, if not running around. Humans, iirc, do pretty crappy, but he could live.) Split a major muscle group open and magically stop the bleeding?

Also, so much is bilateral in humans, why is your magic cut limited to one slice?


06-11-2009, 05:01 PM

Sorry, can post the link but can't figure out how to post the image.

The link is for a transverse section of the neck. These images are always viewed from below, with the front of the neck at the top of the picture.

When you figure that the radius of your neck is probably a little less than the length of your index finger, you'll see there is no "space" in the neck.

Hit any of the blood vessels and you're in big trouble pretty quickly.
Hit the spinal cord and you're in long term trouble and may paralyse yourself. you could even damage the nerves to the muscles that help you breath. Hit the trachea (airway) and you're in trouble, unless you find a way to keep the airway open (like inserting a tube) Hit the oesophagus (the squashed thing just behind the larynx that isn't labelled) and you'll need surgery promptly but would make it to the hospital.

With the perfect angle, and great luck, you might be able to slip a blade between all the vessels, but before it's in as deep as your index finger you'll hit the vertebrae (bone). With care the knife would stop here and not damage the spinal cord.

I don't think a fully qualifed surgeon would believe they could do this without causing serious harm....and if you move the knife at all once it's in then the odds are grim.

Having said that, here's a link to a boy who survived impaling hiself on an iron spike to a depth of about 5 cm without coming to any harm


if you want more info then the best google term is probably "penetrating neck injury"