Let’s hope you’re not squeamish…

I started writing this on Facebook and realized that I was getting so detailed (and perhaps majorly yuck-inducing), so I thought I'd move it to my blog. Medical nerdery at its finest!

Let the title serve as a warning and here's your reference piece. Set? Let's continue.


This is one I had to read a few times before I figured out how it worked out. (Even now, I'm not so sure.) I think the majority of the public would think that this guy (not sure he deserves "gentleman"…yikes!) literally tore his head off his body (especially the person who created the link), but that's not necessarily the case. After all, the title says "decapitation", not "beheading".

Did you know that decapitation doesn't require the removal of the head from the body? I'd forgotten, actually, until reading the article. Decapitation is actually defined as the separation of the skull from the spinal column; it usually causes death because the spinal cord is severed in the process. However–and I did a quick check of Google to verify that this is possible–decapitation is survivable if the spinal cord is not severed and the victim gets speedy medical treatment. (This story is from the Daily Mail…not always the most trustworthy, if I remember correctly, but I've seen such tales elsewhere, so I believe them.)

Have you heard of a hangman's fracture? An execution-style hanging is primarily based on decapitation (though I suppose asphyxiation is possible if the execution is poorly done); so a hangman's fracture is caused when the noose places unusual stress on the second cervical vertebra. (C2, see diagram)

Goddess's honest truth? I forget where I was going with this, outside of, "Your head doesn't have to go rolling to be a decapitation." That's why beheading and decapitation are really two different things entirely. (Usually.)

Okay, I'm to the point where I'm laughing at my nerdy little self. Time to go play games or do something less destructive. (*chuckle*)

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