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Testing mummies helps Siemens pioneer dry tissue imaging techniques

Siemens Healthcare Deutschland : 17 December, 2007  (New Product)
Siemens in cooperation with a team of researchers from the University of Zurich has used historical mummies to develop new software for magnetic resonance tomographs (MR) to provide an insight into the anatomy and disease characteristics of the human being by analysing dry tissue.
The mummy tissue contains almost no water and is a significant challenge to medical imaging technology, which tends to require water to provide sharp images.

Siemens is currently developing specific software for picking up the signal from dry tissue and converting it into sharp images. The software might allow visualisation of even fine bone structures without X-rays in the future. Up to now, visualisation of body tissue through an MR system was only possible based on the tissue’s different water contents. Hence, it was primarily soft tissue that physicians saw on MR images, and not details of the bone structure, which will now be possible with the new software.

“Not only orthopaedic surgeons will be pleased our software will also support neurologists when examining, for example, patients with Alzheimer’s disease with the aid of such MR images, or monitoring the body metabolism,” explained Walter Marzendorfer, the head of magnetic resonance at Siemens Medical Solutions.

“The new software from Siemens provides us for the first time with an absolutely non-destructive examination method without having to moisten valuable tissue before the examination,” said Dr Dr Frank Ruhli, manager of the Swiss Mummy Project, Anatomical Institute, University of Zurich.

Various ancient Egyptian and Peruvian mummies have been examined with MR scanners from Siemens. The method also allowed a particularly close examination of parts of the intervertebral disks or embalming substances used for mummification in ancient Egypt.
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