International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 124, Issue 6, pp 613–616 | Cite as

Gunshot energy transfer profile in ballistic gelatine, determined with computed tomography using the total crack length method

  • Stephan A. Bolliger
  • Michael J. Thali
  • Michael J. Bolliger
  • Beat P. Kneubuehl
Original Article


By measuring the total crack lengths (TCL) along a gunshot wound channel simulated in ordnance gelatine, one can calculate the energy transferred by a projectile to the surrounding tissue along its course. Visual quantitative TCL analysis of cut slices in ordnance gelatine blocks is unreliable due to the poor visibility of cracks and the likely introduction of secondary cracks resulting from slicing. Furthermore, gelatine TCL patterns are difficult to preserve because of the deterioration of the internal structures of gelatine with age and the tendency of gelatine to decompose. By contrast, using computed tomography (CT) software for TCL analysis in gelatine, cracks on 1-cm thick slices can be easily detected, measured and preserved. In this, experiment CT TCL analyses were applied to gunshots fired into gelatine blocks by three different ammunition types (9-mm Luger full metal jacket, .44 Remington Magnum semi-jacketed hollow point and 7.62 × 51 RWS Cone-Point). The resulting TCL curves reflected the three projectiles’ capacity to transfer energy to the surrounding tissue very accurately and showed clearly the typical energy transfer differences. We believe that CT is a useful tool in evaluating gunshot wound profiles using the TCL method and is indeed superior to conventional methods applying physical slicing of the gelatine.


CT Gunshot energy Total crack length measurement Ordnance gelatine Forensic imaging Virtopsy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan A. Bolliger
    • 1
  • Michael J. Thali
    • 1
  • Michael J. Bolliger
    • 1
  • Beat P. Kneubuehl
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre Forensic Imaging and Virtopsy, Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Centre for Forensic Physics and Ballistics, Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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