Blast injury and the human skeleton: An important emerging aspect of conflict-related trauma
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Authors: Dussault, M.C., Smith, M. and Osselton, D.
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences
Recent decades have seen an accelerating trend in warfare whereby a growing proportion of conflict-related deaths have been caused by explosions. Analysis of blast injury features little in anthropological literature. We present a review of clinical literature that includes prevalence of injury to anatomical regions and potential indicators of blast injury which can be used by forensic anthropologists. This includes high prevalence of extremity (22.8-91.2%) and facial (19.6-40%) injury in combat contexts, lower limb fractures (19-74.3%) in suicide bombing, traumatic amputation (3-43%) and diffuse fracture patterns in terrorist bombings. Potential indicators of blast trauma include blowout fractures in sinus cavities from blast overpressure, transverse mandibular fractures, and visceral surface rib fractures. Ability to recognize blast trauma and distinguish it in the skeleton is of importance in investigations and judicial proceedings relating to war crimes, terrorism, and human rights violations and likely to become increasingly crucial to forensic anthropology knowledge. © 2014 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.