Hospital's CT Scans of Egyptian Mummy Help Vermont's Medical Examiner Solve Crimes

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Hospital's CT Scans of Egyptian Mummy Help Vermont's Medical Examiner Solve Crimes
Janie Cohen, left, the Fleming Museum Mummy, Dr. Jason Johnson, and Aimee Marcereaum DeGalan stand with a mummy for scanning at Fletcher Allen Health Care, the teaching hospital at the University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vt. A childhood fascination with archaeology and a chance encounter with a 2,700-year-old Egyptian mummy are helping Vermont doctors and law enforcement officials find truth in some of the most challenging of modern-day crimes, the unexplained deaths of young children. The University of Vermont Hospital's CT scans helped doctors create a full-sized, three-dimensional model of the mummy’s skull _ thanks to the latest technology and the sharp detail obtained by cranking up the power on the scanner to levels unsafe for living patients. AP Photo/ University of Vermont, Rajan Chawla.

By Wilson Ring,Associated Press



BURLINGTON, VT (AP).- A childhood fascination with archaeology and a chance encounter with a 2,700-year-old Egyptian mummy are helping Vermont doctors and law enforcement officials find truth in some of the most challenging of modern-day crimes: the unexplained deaths of young children.

After spotting the mummy at the University of Vermont's Robert Hull Fleming Museum in Burlington, Dr. Jason Johnson, a radiology resident, arranged to have it put through his hospital's state-of-the-art CT scanner. He wanted to know about the life of what is believed to be the remains of an Egyptian servant girl of about 14 — and what led to her death.

What Johnson didn't expect was that some of the scientific techniques used to reveal the mummy's secrets would have other applications, including helping Vermont's medical examiner and prosecutors determine if children who die in infancy are the victims of crimes.

The hospital's CT scans helped doctors create a full-size, three-dimensional model of the mummy's skull — thanks to the latest technology and the sharp detail obtained by cranking up the power on the scanner to levels unsafe for living patients. That also helps in forensics by revealing patterns of injury in modern infant death cases that other scan techniques might miss.

"It made me feel good I came up with the protocol to work on the mummy," said Johnson, 31, a fifth-year radiology resident at Fletcher Allen Health Care, the teaching hospital at the University of Vermont. "I never sat up at night thinking, 'How can I save children from abuse?'"

Since the mummy was scanned in November, physicians working with the Vermont medical examiner's office have started using the techniques on infant deaths, which average about one a month.

"It was tremendously helpful," said Washington County State's Attorney Tom Kelly, who used the information gleaned from a CT in a recent case to help determine the age of the bone breaks in a young abuse victim. The case, completed before the mummy technique was developed, has not been discussed in open court so he couldn't give further details.

Johnson said that just as important as helping officials learn if a crime has been committed, the new techniques can help prove an infant's death was natural.

"It's not always pattern of injuries that we find suggesting somebody did something wrong," Johnson said. "There could be findings that nothing wrong happened or the story fits. It's in the interest of truth."

Medical examiners across the country are turning more to CT scanners to complement traditional autopsies and X-rays, said Dr. Mary Ann Sens, the president of the National Association of Medical Examiners and chair of the pathology department at the University of North Dakota's medical school.

"This got really wide acceptance in the United States in the last five to 10 years based on the work done at the Dover facility by the armed forces medical examiner," she said of the Delaware location where the remains of all deceased service members are processed after being brought back from overseas.

And now it's being expanded to deceased children.

In North Dakota, Sens said, "We are just now starting to request on infants, children under 5, that a CT scan be done. It really does assist a great deal. It also allows a 3-D reconstruction so you can actually take off layers of the skin and graphically show where wounds are."

Vermont's chief medical examiner, Dr. Steven Shapiro, said he's been doing full-body CT scans of infants for two or three years. The new techniques developed for the mummy scan are just improving the process.

"Since the person is not living, you don't care about the radiation dose," said Fletcher Allen radiologist Dr. Christopher Filippi, who helped scan the mummy and develop the new techniques. He hopes to present a paper on the techniques at the fall meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. "Normally, in clinical scanning you have to worry about the patient. If the person is deceased or a mummy, you can take your time and get exquisite detail."

New CT technology is almost 1,000 times faster than 20 years ago, which also helps improve the ability to produce three-dimensional images, such as those used to create the model of the mummy's skull, said Dr. George Ebert, the chief of imaging technology at the Radiology Department at Fletcher Allen.

The Fleming Museum acquired the mummy in 1910 after George Perkins, the university's first curator of collections, bought it at a market in Cairo. The mummy is believed to be about 2,700 years old and to have come from the Nile Valley, about 350 miles south of Cairo, museum officials say.

Since shortly after arriving in Burlington a century ago, the mummy has been displayed at the Fleming, just downhill from the medical complex now known as Fletcher Allen. It's still one of the museum's most popular attractions.

"It's not just a body. It's wrapped in linen. It's beautifully wrapped and then painted and then encased in a further decorated tomb," said Fleming Director Janie Cohen.

And it was in the Fleming that Johnson first saw the mummy in the fall of 2009 when he was there to see a different exhibit.

Johnson grew up in Globe, Ariz., where a fifth-grade teacher helped instill in him a fascination with Egyptology, honed by watching "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with his father and learning about archaeological sites in his home state.

So he checked into the history of the Vermont mummy. It was X-rayed in 1937, but the relatively crude imagery available 74 years ago did little to tell the physicians who examined her much about her past. So he enlisted his colleagues and anthropologists at UVM and elsewhere to undertake their own mummy project.

Early one morning last fall, Johnson and museum staff took the mummy out of its glass display case, protected it in bubble wrap and trundled it the quarter-mile from the museum to the radiology department. They rolled it into a state-of-the-art machine and spent an hour scanning it from every angle. The doctors came away with about 10,000 images, some with a resolution of about one-hundredth of an inch.

A skull fracture above the right ear stood out. The injury would have been enough to kill her, but no one could say whether it happened before she died or after. There was a cyst above one tooth, and the scans showed that the Egyptian embalmers removed the girl's brain through the base of her skull rather than the more common method of extracting it through the nose.

The mummy is back in its museum case and the Fleming staff is planning to build a new exhibit with the information gleaned from the scan, including CT images and the 3-D reconstruction of the girl's skull. What they didn't know was that those same imaging techniques would help play a role in modern forensic medicine.

"That's what science is all about," said Sens, the North Dakota pathologist. "Every person's death can mean something. When we examine it carefully it benefits society, it benefits the family and ultimately it benefits everyone."


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.










Today's News

April 26, 2011

Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali Photographs Tell Stories of Two American Icons

Hospital's CT Scans of Egyptian Mummy Help Vermont's Medical Examiner Solve Crimes

Only Hitchcock Story Board Ever to Appear at Auction to be Sold at Bonhams

Sotheby's to Sell Significant and Defining Collection of German Art of the 60s and 70s

Champagne from Baltic Sea Shipwreck Up for Grabs at Auction in Finland in June

Sony World Photography Awards Winners Showcased at Somerset House

Cleto Munari Launches New Collection in Collaboration with Architects, Artists and Poets

New Illustrated Book Celebrates the World's Most Iconic Beverage: Coca Cola

Record Setting Chinese Rarities Top $9.6+ Million CICF Event in Rosemont, Illinois

A Graphic Odyssey through Wim Crouwel's Career at the Design Museum in London

Snap Galleries Exhibition Reveals Unidentified Characters in Beatles Abbey Road Session

International Team of Surveyors Map World War I Battlefield of the Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey

Eight Pace Gallery Artists to Present Major Projects at 54th Venice Biennale in June

ARS 11 at KIASMA will Change Your Perceptions About Africa and Contemporary Art

Performance Artist Magic Laser to Stage Classic Motion Picture Chase Scenes in Times Square

Amigo! Archie Comics Plans Spanish Digital Copies

YouTube Play Nominated for Three Webby Awards

19th Annual High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction Nets $1.7 Million

Music Stands Still: A Major Exhibition at S.M.A.K., Showing Work by Jorge Macchi

Russia's Venerable Bolshoi Theater to Reopen in October After Years of Reconstruction

Recent Acquisitions: Prints and Photographs Opens at The New York Public Library

Partial Copy of the 500-Year-Old Nuremberg Chronicle by Anton Koberger Surfaces in Utah

Derby Museum Showcases Jockey Great Bill Shoemaker

South Dakota Repository's Images Get Gallery Treatment

Emerging Artists of the Rutgers Photography Club Exhibit at Collaborative Arts

Princess Diana Gown Exhibit Comes to New Hampshire




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful