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seun
01-30-2011, 05:32 PM
I've got a character who's died from a stab wound. The knife is still in his stomach and he's been dead for about five hours in a building with no heating in the middle of winter. My question is if someone wants to remove the knife from the body, how difficult/easy would this be? Is rigor mortis an issue at this point? Would removing the knife release any gas from the body?

And yes, this really is a scene in my book. I haven't killed anyone. :evil

RobJ
01-30-2011, 05:39 PM
I've never been killed by stab wound so I can't speak from experience, but I did search Google images once for photos of stab wounds, and one image in particular remains in my memory where the knife had entered the back and the wound was gaping - knife still in place. Didn't make for pleasant viewing. My impression from that is that the knife would probably come out quite easily. Stomach wounds - don't know. Might be worth a search.

seun
01-30-2011, 05:46 PM
Not sure if I fancy looking at pictures of stab wounds. But then if I want to call myself a horror writer, I suppose horrible things come with the job. ;)

RobJ
01-30-2011, 05:50 PM
Yeah, understandable. It's really not very pretty.

seun
01-30-2011, 05:51 PM
Yeah, understandable. It's really not very pretty.

You're right. That was nasty.

I think I might need to move the stabbing to his chest and pierce his lungs. I need a relatively quick death. Looks like a stomach wound would take longer than I thought.

LBlankenship
01-30-2011, 06:17 PM
Looks like a stomach wound would take longer than I thought.

If the knife got in deep enough to cut the descending aorta, the person would die quickly. Then it might need a few pulls to get the knife out just because it's jammed in there pretty deep.

seun
01-30-2011, 06:42 PM
Isn't the aorta to do with the heart? Does it go as low as the stomach?

lbender
01-30-2011, 08:49 PM
I'm a vet...don't treat people. But major blood vessels do go down past the stomach. 25% of the blood flow goes through the kidneys in a dog - probably similar in a person. All you would need to do would be to cut a major vessel and your person would expire pretty darn quick. Part of the problem would be that I believe the major vessels in a person's abdomen are closer to the back than the front. Therefore, you would need a long blade if the wound is from the front. As far as removing the blade, as long as it wasn't embedded in bone, it shouldn't be too tough.

LBlankenship
01-31-2011, 02:33 AM
Isn't the aorta to do with the heart? Does it go as low as the stomach?

The aorta comes up out of the heart, curls around and heads downward. It splits in two somewhere around your hips and continues down into your legs (it gets a new name when it splits). The aorta gets smaller as it goes, but it's still a big, major artery in your abdomen. Thing is, it's protected by all your guts on one side and your spine on the other side so it's hard to get at.

Stoneghost
01-31-2011, 06:37 AM
As the vet pointed out, there are major arteries near the stomach. According to the imaging on google body the marginal artery is closer to the front than the back on a human, just left of the midline. Even a pocket knife could penetrate that with some tissue compression, a well placed and forceful strike.

How fat is the person who got killed? If they are fat the length of the blade would matter a lot.

It is unlikely gasses could be released, wounds aren't air tight, and gasses that might have escaped would have already pushed around the blade and through the wound.

It is unlikely the body would be frozen, or that there would be any difficulty in removing the knife. You can roughly calculate this, I'm sure a pathologist could calculate it very accurately.

http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00206/text_ta_time_since_death.htm

Interestingly it looks like low temperatures slows or prevents rigor mortis.

I suppose there is something wrong me, as I seem to like questions involving death and injury. I assure you though, the interest is purely academic.

Jamesaritchie
01-31-2011, 06:59 AM
It would come out easily. And most knives are very sharp, so unless driven into a bone, they cut themselves free. Never pulled a knife out of a human, but I have pulled many out of animal carcasses.

Several factors go into rigor, but while it usually start in three to four hours, it isn't full for twelve hours or so. But not even rigor can capture a sharp knife.

seun
01-31-2011, 01:07 PM
Thanks for the tips, all. I'll have to decide just how quick I need this death to be before I finalise the wound area. Severing an artery could be the best option.

shaldna
02-01-2011, 10:49 PM
In a rather crude way, try sticking a knife into a slab of ham. Then pull it out. Getting it in is the hard bit. G\etting it out might require a bit of a pull, but not that hard.