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Keywords:

  • computed tomography;
  • mummies;
  • anatomical preparations;
  • dissection;
  • petrification

Abstract

Eight anatomical preparations from the collection of Giovan Battista Rini (1795-1856) at the Desenzano Hospital Pathology Division (Brescia, Italy) were examined by computed tomography (CT). The aim of the study was to obtain detailed information on the state of preservation of these “anatomical mummies” and the techniques used to prepare them. Relying on the existing literature, the examined specimens (five heads with necks, two busts and one heart) could be divided into three types of anatomical specimens: “dry preparations,” “corrosion preparations,” and “organ preparations.” CT examination enabled the assessment of the exact features of each specimen, some of the preparation techniques applied, the presence of foreign bodies, and the use of substances to fill the blood vessels. All of the cases demonstrated an extremely good state of preservation. The study sheds new light on important-yet scarcely known-preparation techniques created for different anatomical demonstrations. Results of the CT investigation were consistent with the anatomical preservation methods described in 18th to 20th century literature, particularly those of Italy. Clin. Anat. 25:299–307, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.