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Characterising the dynamics of expirated bloodstain pattern formation using high-speed digital video imaging


During forensic investigations, it is often important to be able to distinguish between impact spatter patterns (blood from gunshots, explosives, blunt force trauma and/or machinery accidents) and bloodstain patterns generated by expiration (blood from the mouth, nose or lungs). These patterns can be difficult to distinguish on the basis of the size of the bloodstains. In this study, high-speed digital video imaging has been used to investigate the formation of expirated bloodstain patterns generated by breathing, spitting and coughing mechanisms. Bloodstain patterns from all three expiration mechanisms were dominated by the presence of stains less than 0.5 mm in diameter. Video analysis showed that in the process of coughing blood, high-velocity, very small blood droplets were ejected first. These were followed by lower velocity, larger droplets, strands and plumes of liquid held together in part by saliva. The video images showed the formation of bubble rings and beaded stains, traditional markers for classifying expirated patterns. However, the expulsion mechanism, the distance travelled by the blood droplets, and the type of surface the blood was deposited on were all factors determining whether beaded stains were generated.

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