J Clin Pathol 54:348-355 doi:10.1136/jcp.54.5.348

Interpreting bruises at necropsy

  1. P Vanezis
  1. Department of Forensic Medicine and Science, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
  1. Dr Vanezis p.vanezis{at}
  • Accepted 20 November 2000


The accurate interpretation of bruising at necropsy is essential to understanding how a victim has been injured and assists the pathologist in a reliable reconstruction of the events leading to death. It is essential not only to assess the mechanism of production of a bruise, taking into account the type of impacting surface and the magnitude of force used, but also to estimate when the injury was caused. An account is given of the various methods used in the examination of bruises, particularly with respect to aging, as well as the factors that may affect their appearance. Differentiation from artefacts resulting from postmortem changes is also discussed in some detail.