Monday, November 2, 2015

A Pointed Discussion About Knife Wounds To The Throat

In the article "Knife to Throat, A Misconception," Matthew Schafer points out that the lethality of knife attacks to the throat are often exaggerated. He writes:
There are people walking around all over the work with scars on their necks from having their necks slashed and throats cut, and the reason they’re walking around is because those injuries are often perfectly survivable. Due to watching movies most people think that all you need to do is to take a little swipe at the throat and it will open right up and their victim will be dead in a matter of seconds but it doesn’t work like that.
So what does work? Schafer explains both what needs to be done and why it is difficult:
When you cut the throat you really want the carotid artery not the jugular. The carotid artery comes directly from the heart and with ever heartbeat it delivers load after load of blood to your head and brain; the jugular vein carries that blood away from the head and back to the heart. Cutting a jugular vein can kill you it just takes longer. The blood will flow instead of pump out and it is easier to stop with pressure. The survivability of a cut or severed jugular vein is higher than a carotid artery. 
* * * 
The problem is the carotid artery lies about an inch and a half inside the neck! First you have to get through the skin and down to the muscle. The muscles of the neck are quite thick and even with a doctor’s scalpel a quick slice won’t cut through them, especially the Sternocleidomastoid Muscle. This is the big muscle you can fell on both sides of your windpipe when you turn your head. This muscle runs in front of the jugular vein which sits in front of the carotid artery. 
So, if you want to cut someone carotid artery you have to get through and inch and a half of skin, muscle tissue, and other bodily components. Anyone who has every butchered an animal or even cut into a rotisserie chicken that you buy at the supermarket should be able to tell you that flesh has a bit of resistance to it.
So, if you were to hypothetically have to remove a sentry, what would be the correct method? I think I will rely on a description of such a wound from people who actually used edged weapons in combat and warfare:
In 2012, Egyptologists and forensic scientists conducted an autopsy of Ramses III's body and reported in the British Medical Journal that his throat had been cut. The sharp knife that caused the wound had been thrust into his neck immediately under the larynx, all the way down to the cervical vertebra, cutting his trachea and severing all of the soft tissue in the area. Death was instantaneous.
(Eric H. Cline, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed). The following photo appears to show this very technique or something similar:

(Source)

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