Determining the etiology of skull trauma by analyzing the resulting fracture pattern is a common forensic objective that has been demonstrated to follow generalized trends regarding shape of insulting instrument and energy of impact. While these extrinsic factors have been investigated in the past, relatively little has been shown relating the resulting differences in fracture pattern presentation on the basis of intrinsic factors of the skull being impacted.
A series of controlled impacts were performed at a variety of energies and utilizing a variety of insulting instruments on a sample of cadaveric specimens. Resulting fracture pattern was mapped and analyzed in the context of the type of impact received, while differences in fracture patterns on specimens receiving similar impacts were analyzed in the context of intrinsic skull properties.
While generalized fracture pattern trends were observed regarding shape of insulting implement and energy of impact for skulls of typical thickness, disparate and unexpected fracture patterns were observed in skulls that were exceptionally thick or thin. Therefore, consideration of individual skull properties may be important in the investigation skull fracture etiology.