Wound Terminology

Wound Terminology

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present the first of a new set of lessons from our Military Pedagogy series.  These discussions, are from U.S. Army Subcourse MD0576, Wound Care [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited].  Today’s article lays the foundation by explaining Wound Terminology.  It’s important to note that military first aid and field medicine focuses almost entirely on stabilizing patients and moving them rapidly to the rear for further treatment. Needless to say, seek professional medical care immediately in the event of illness or injury and take action yourself only if you have been properly trained.


A wound is a break in the continuity of the skin, the break caused by violence or trauma to the tissue. A wound may be open or closed. In a closed wound or bruise, the soft tissue below the skin surface is damaged, but there is no break in the skin. In an open wound, the surface of the skin is broken. Here are some terms referring to wounds that you should become familiar with.

Figure 1-1 Abrasion


(1)  Abrasion. In this type of wound, the outer layers of skin or mucous membrane are rubbed or scraped off (figure 1-1).


(2)  Incised. This type of wound is cut smooth and straight. The rate of bleeding varies and there is minimal contamination. A surgeon makes this type of wound (incision).

Figure 1-2 Laceration


(3)  Laceration. This wound is a torn, jagged cut which has gone through the skin tissues and blood vessels (figure 1-2). The wound can be made by blunt instruments such as shell fragments. Lacerations are usually very dirty.

Figure 1-3 Puncture


(4)  Puncture. A puncture wound (figure 1-3) is made by a sharp object such as a splinter, knife, nail, or some other pointed object. These wounds bleed very little although the object may pass through nerves, bones, and organs, causing internal damage. Puncture wounds are usually very dirty.


(5)  Perforating. A perforating wound is one in which there is an entrance and/or an exit. Such a wound might be made by a bullet.


(6)  Mutilating. This is the term for wounds which result in disfigurement or loss of a body part.

Figure 1-4 Contusion


(7)  Contusion. This wound is caused by a blunt object. The damage is done to underlying tissues or organs, and the wound is closed with no broken skin (figure 1-4).

Andrew’s Note:  Subscribe or check back as we expand this discussion to Wound Care, Physiological Wound Responses, as well as General and Specific Wound Treatment.  First Aid is an important component of the Personal Health Preparedness Function.

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