Feature | Computed Tomography (CT) | December 02, 2015

Imaging Yields Evidence of Heart Disease in Archaeological Find

Preserved hearts dating back to the late 16th century to early 17th century examined using MRI, CT, to find atherosclerosis

Lead heart-shaped lead urns unearthed at the excavation site. Image by Rozenn Colleter, Ph.D./INRAP.

Archeological excavation of lead-preserved hearts in France.

Archeological excavation of lead-preserved hearts in France.

Picture of the five heart-shaped lead urns. Image by Rozenn Colleter, Ph.D./INRAP.

Archeologist, Dr. Rozenn Colleter, excavating the fifth heart-shaped lead urn. Image by Gaétan LeCloire/INRAP.

Heart-shaped lead urn with an inscription identifying the contents as the heart of Toussaint Perrien, Knight of Brefeillac.

December 2, 2015 — Researchers using modern imaging techniques on hearts more than 400 years old found at an archeological site were able to learn about the health conditions of the people buried there, according to a new study presented today at the 2015 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Archaeologists with the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research excavating the basement of the Convent of the Jacobins in Rennes, France, unearthed several grave sites dating back to the late 16th or early 17th century.

Among the items unearthed in the burial vaults of elite-class families were five heart-shaped lead urns. Inside each urn was a preserved human heart. A team of radiologists, including one with a background in forensics, was called in to examine the hearts. Additional researchers, including forensic physicians, archeologists, pathologic physicians and physicists, were brought in from the Molecular Anthropology and Synthesis Imaging and the Institute of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases.

The research team used MRI and CT to obtain clinical images of the hearts. While the images were impressive, due to the embalming materials used to preserve the hearts, very little health information could be obtained.

"We tried to see if we could get health information from the hearts in their embalmed state, but the embalming material made it difficult," said study author Fatima-Zohra Mokrane, M.D., radiologist at Rangueil Hospital at the University Hospital of Toulouse in France. "We needed to take necessary precautions to conduct the research carefully in order to get all possible information."

The research team carefully cleaned the hearts, removing the embalming material. MRI and CT scans were redone. On the new set of CT images, researchers were able to identify the different heart structures, such as chambers, valves and coronary arteries. Once the tissue was rehydrated, researchers were better able to identify myocardial muscles with MRI. Classic techniques, such as dissection, external study and histology, were also used to examine the heart tissues.

One heart appeared healthy and showed no signs of disease. Three of the hearts did show signs of disease, as plaque was found on the coronary arteries. The fifth heart had been poorly preserved and, therefore, could not be studied.

"Since four of the five hearts were very well preserved, we were able to see signs of present-day heart conditions, such as plaque and atherosclerosis," Mokrane said.

During the excavation, the archeologists and the research team also discovered that the heart of one male — later identified by an inscription on one of the lead urns as Toussaint Perrien, Knight of Brefeillac — had been removed upon his death and later buried with his wife, Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, whose preserved body was also found at the site.

"It was common during that time period to be buried with the heart of a husband or wife," Mokrane said. "This was the case with one of our hearts. It's a very romantic aspect to the burials."

Co-authors on the study are Rozenn Colleter, Ph.D., Sylvie Duchesne, Ph.D., Ramiro Moreno, Ph.D., Anou Sewonu, Ph.D., Herve P. Rousseau, Ph.D., Eric Crubezy, M.D., Ph.D., Norbert Telmon, M.D., Ph.D., and Fabrice Dedouit, M.D., Ph.D.

 

Read the article “Mummy CT Scans Show No Significant Differences in Atherosclerotic Disease in Modern vs. Ancient Egyptians.”
 

For more information: RadiologyInfo.org

 

Related Mummy and Archological Cardiology Content:

Egyptian Mummies Show Earliest Cases of Coronary Disease on CT

Mummy’s Secrets No Longer Under Wraps Thanks to 3-D CT

Study Reveals Evidence of Heart Disease in Ancient Egyptian Mummies

Imaging Yields Evidence of Heart Disease in Archeological Find

Related Content

Mirada Medical Releases DLCExpert for Radiotherapy Treatment Planning
Technology | Treatment Planning | February 22, 2018
February 22, 2018 — U.K.-based medical imaging software provider Mirada Medical has released DLCExpert, the first com
Sponsored Content | Videos | Pediatric Imaging | February 22, 2018
FUJIFILM Medical Systems U.S.A., Inc. and FUJIFILM SonoSite Inc., are offering a full-suite pediatric solutions...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Flat Panel Displays | February 21, 2018
This 5 megapixel, high-brightness color monitor has the high-definition display necessary for breast imaging.
Aidoc Introduces AI Solution for Whole-Body CT Scan Analysis
News | Artificial Intelligence | February 20, 2018
Deep learning startup company Aidoc announced what it calls the world’s first and only comprehensive, full-body...
A brain MRI. Gadolinium contrast agents (GBCAs) are partly retained in the brain, raising safety concerns.
Feature | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 16, 2018 | Dave Fornell
One of the biggest concerns in radiology in recent years is the safety of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) us
Arterys Receives First FDA Clearance for Oncology Imaging Suite With Deep Learning
Technology | Artificial Intelligence | February 15, 2018
Arterys Inc. announced its fifth 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Arterys...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Imaging | February 15, 2018
David Widmann, president and CEO of Konica Minolta, looks at what the future of healthcare can bring to its customers,...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Artificial Intelligence | February 15, 2018
ITN Contributing Editor Greg Freiherr offers an overview of artificial intelligence advances at the Radiological Soci
Patients Lack Information About Imaging Exams
News | Patient Engagement | February 14, 2018
Patients and their caregivers desire information about upcoming imaging examinations, but many are not getting it,...
Overlay Init