CT imaging of human mummies: a critical review of the literature (1979–2005)

Authors

  • J. J. O'Brien,

    1. Paleoradiology Research Unit, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
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  • J. J. Battista,

    1. Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
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  • C. Romagnoli,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
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  • R. K. Chhem

    Corresponding author
    1. Paleoradiology Research Unit, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
    2. Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
    3. Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
    • Department of Diagnostic Radiology, London Health Sciences Center, 339 Windermere Road, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5A5.
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Abstract

The number of computerised tomography (CT) investigations of mummies has increased since the first published study in 1979. However, this approach has never been validated. We present a critical analysis of the literature (1979 to 2005). Relevant articles were selected via a MedLine search and analysed according to CT technique, methodology, and author's speciality. Thirty-one original articles matched our selection criteria. Of these studies, 42% were authored by radiologists, while 26% had no contribution from radiologists. Hypothesis-driven papers comprised only 9.7% of the total. While 84% of the studies had a stated purpose for conducting the CT study, only 67% of studies defined their CT protocol clearly. CT was used to study mummification techniques in 74% of instances, and/or to detect disease in 58%. Conclusions based on CT analysis were derived in 84% of studies, but only 32% of these answered specific questions. Furthermore, only 36% of these conclusions were related to the stated purpose of the study. Using the criteria of the grading system we developed, we found that 61% of studies were supported only by weak evidence. We conclude that evidence-based research with better design should be encouraged in future palaeoradiological studies. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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