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Mummy CT scans at Maidstone Hospital

CT scans of an Egyptian mummified head and cat from Canterbury Museums and Galleries, Kent.

Left to right - Dana Goodburn-Brown (archaeological conservator), Tristan Barnden (Lead radiographer, Nuclear Medicine, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust), and James Elliott (Canterbury Christ Church University). Centre - The mummy head, looking from underneath the chin.

The Canterbury Museums and Galleries mummified head was taken to the Nuclear Medicine department at Maidstone Hospital and scanned with the computed tomography (CT) scanner. As a bonus we also had the Egyptian mummified cat as well! The photos of the machine may seem a little odd, a tunnel-like scanner, but it's a combined nuclear medicine-computed tomography scanner (NM/CT) which is used for patient care.

We met in the evening, after patient visiting hours, and adhered to covid precautions. A benefit of using the CT scanner in Nuclear Medicine was that it did not impact upon patient services - the scanner is not used in the evening. This is in contrast with the other CT scanners within the hospital which are used 24 hours a day. Nuclear Medicine is my other place of work, where patients are imaged for oncology, cardiology and other conditions. Tristan Barnden, the lead radiographer for Nuclear Medicine, performed the scans with the help of Joanna Sillars, one of the medical physicists with a specialism in CT. It seemed odd to scan the head and cat when we have [living] patients visiting nearly every day. Suffice to say - the machine was properly cleaned once we had finished!

We performed a variety of scans for the head and cat with different settings to gain high quality images. Normally we would want to minimise the amount of radiation during a scan for living patients, but for these specimens we increased the number and quality of the imaging. Once I've downloaded the data I'll be able to investigate the imaging in detail. The head appears to have some medium-density tubes throughout - perhaps supports from a stand? The cat mummy contains a whole cat, but I'll need to find a friendly veterinarian to learn more!

A video is being created to demonstrate the event, which will be uploaded soon.

Images: All copyright of James Elliott. Please contact for permission before use.

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