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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 107-110

Pathology of cause of death from penetrating weapons in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria: an autopsy study of 254 cases

Department of Anatomical Pathology , University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital PMB 6173, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
D Seleye-Fubara
Department of Anatomical Pathology , University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital PMB 6173, Port Harcourt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Aims and objectives: To study the pattern of death caused by penetrating weapons. This is a prospective autopsy study of 254 cases over 8 years (1995 - 2002) Subjects and Methods: A retrospective analysis of all the medico-legal autopsies performed by the authors on bodies in which the circumstances of death suggested the use of penetrating weapons over a period of 8 years was carried out by the authors. Results: A total of 254 bodies that died during close combat, communal clashes, militant attacks and armed banditry of penetrating weapons were recorded. The youngest was 2 years old male while the oldest was 75 years old male. The highest death toll occurred between the ages of 20 - 49 years 197(77.6% cases) with a peak at the age group 20 - 29 years 75(29.5%) cases. There were 218(85.8%) males and 36 (14.2%) females giving a male to female ratio of 6:1. The most common cause of penetrating death was gunshot missiles 136(53.5%), while the most common anatomic site of the wound was the chest wall 85(33.5%). Instant death occurred in 179(70.5%) cases and haemorrhagic shock caused the death of 229(90.2%) cases, while the brain was the most common organ lacerated 61(24.0%). Conclusion: Penetrating wounds were commonly sustained in close combats, during communal clashes, militant and armed robbery attacks, and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Guns which are prohibited by law and other sharp and pointed instruments were freely used. The condition is preventable by enforcing stringent laws, but it resulted into a lot of mortalities.

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