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Missing Left Sock Beast
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Coyote Musings
Coyote handsome
his coat the same brown
as the dust from which he rises


What is the sound of one hand slapping Schroedinger's cat?


The Quantum Duck goes "quark, quark."

September 2010
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Missing Left Sock Beast [userpic]
Yay for goo questions

Can anyone tell me the approximate depth of skin and muscle that would be found on the chest of an average man before one would strike the ribs?


Depends on just where you’re checking. The pectoral muscles will provide a lot more protection than the amount at the level of the sternum, for instance.

Good point; I'm writing for an autopsy incision, so the pectorals will definitely figure in.

IIRC, that’s a Y-shaped incision. If the vertical part of the Y starts above the sternum, there should be very little in the way before you strike bone; if the diagonals are supposed to cut through the pectoral muscle, I’d expect the blade to sink in a couple of centimeters in the thicker parts. Universities like MIT and Yale are putting their coursework online; see if they have any classes that dissect cadavers.

Cool, thanks (and yes, it is a Y-shaped incision with the "V" usually starting at the points of the shoulders to the base of the sternum and the tail of the "Y" from the base of the sternum to the pelvic bone.

(Howstuffworks.com has a page on autopsies but didn't include the info I needed.)

I'm sorry, but the first thing I thought of when I read this was "boyfriend trouble".


meep! I hope not!

you already got your answer, but I gotta reply anyway.
For what you're doing(?), nowhere much more than an inch/2-3CM, mostly less, remember you're cutting the tops of the pectorals, not the main mass of them, and above them and down the center there's not much over the bones.
If you're going in, say, at the heart, expect two inches of flesh and then almost an inch of bone before you hit anything important. That's why in most states knives under 3" are not a "deadly weapon", and you can carry one in your pocket.
From the back there's not much flesh, but everything important has a scapula over it.
From the side now, under the left arm, that's where you're golden. Less than an inch from the surface, you're into a lung and, with the right angle, the Aorta not much farther. You're still about four inches to the heart, but it't rarely necessary to get all the way there.

I had an interesting youth.