Intracranial impalement with entrance site in the mandibular region: postmortem elucidation of an accidental fall on a wooden plant stick

Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Jun 15;209(1-3):e35-40. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.03.034. Epub 2011 Apr 23.


A 78-year-old woman with a history of transient ischemic attacks was found in the doorway of her house in a somnolent and unresponsive condition. In the right mandibular region, a small skin wound was localized, which was surgically treated. Six days after admission to the hospital, an exploratory craniotomy was performed because of abnormal CT findings. Apart from tissue lesions and hemorrhages a small bone fragment was detected in the right cerebral cortex, which was removed. After 11 days in hospital, the patient died from failure of central regulatory functions. At the forensic autopsy, a 15 cm long wound track running upward from the skin wound in the right mandibular region through the bony skull base to the right parietal lobe of the brain was noted. Apparently, the surgically removed bone fragment had been displaced from the right middle cranial fossa. The site of the incident in the deceased's house was inspected again and a bamboo pole used to stabilize a potted plant standing on the floor was found and sent to the trace evidence laboratory. Analysis showed blood and tissue deposits from the victim. On the basis of all the findings and the circumstances of the case, a fatal impalement injury caused by an accidental fall could be assumed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Calcinosis / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / etiology
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / pathology*
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mandibular Injuries / etiology
  • Mandibular Injuries / pathology*
  • Parietal Lobe / injuries
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Radiography