Neural tube defect in a 4000-year-old Egyptian infant mummy: A case of meningocele from the museum of anthropology and ethnography of Turin (Italy)

Rosa Boano, Ezio Fulcheri, Maria Cristina Martina, Andrea Ferraris, Renato Grilletto, Rossana Cremo, Federico Cesarani, Giovanni Gandini, Emma Rabino Massa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper reports a paleopathological study of a severe neural tube defect in an ancient mummy, more specifically, a meningocele in an Egyptian infant from the XI dynasty (2100-1955 B.C.). This is one of the most ancient cases of meningocele in mummified human remains described in paleopathological literature. Prehistoric and early historic examples of severe congenital defects of the vertebral column and neural tube are rare, because of the precarious preservation conditions of ancient human remains. Further, since the majority are only the skeletal remains, paleopathological and paleoepidemiological analysis based on the observation of bones is even more difficult. Hence, it is not easy to investigate this disease in the past in all its complexities and true diffusion. The case presented here is peculiar, since it concerns a mummy with almost all soft tissues preserved, thus allowing us to describe the defect in an infant. Only targeted, minimally invasive examinations were performed. An anthropological investigation with helical CT scan and histological analysis was used to diagnose the defect and identify post-mortem transformation processes. The analyses confirmed the diagnosis of meningocele in an approximately six-month-old infant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-487
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Paediatric Neurology
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

Keywords

  • CT scan
  • Histological analysis
  • Meningocele
  • Mummy
  • Paleopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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