International journal of legal medicine

The determination of firing distance applying a microscopic quantitative method and confocal laser scanning microscopy for detection of gunshot residue particles.

PMID 16862444


In this study, we applied a microscopic quantitative method based on the use of sodium rhodizonate to verify the presence of residues and their distribution on the cutis of gunshot wounds. A total of 250 skin samples were selected from cases in which the manner of death (accidental, suicide, and homicide) and the shooting distance could be reliably determined. The samples were examined under a light microscope, in transmitted bright field illumination and phase contrast mode, and with confocal laser scanning microscopy. In all skin specimens the area of each histological section was directly measured by an image analysis system. Both the number and the size of powder particles were measured. The distribution of gunshot residues (GSR) in the epidermal and subepidermal layers was also analyzed. The evaluation of the microscopic entrance wounds demonstrated different findings related to the range of fire. The data derived from the evaluation of both macroscopic and microscopic features demonstrated that the amount and the spatial distribution of GSR deposits in the skin surrounding entrance wounds strictly correlate with shooting distance.

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Potassium rhodizonate, technical grade, 85%