Radiological analysis of a naturally mummified body

Akihito Usui, Yusuke Kawasumi, Yoshiyuki Hosokai, Yoshie Hayashizaki, Haruo Saito, Masato Funayama

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8 Citations (Scopus)


A body in an advanced stage of mummification was found in a concrete apartment in Japan. Natural complete mummification is very rare in Japan's humid and temperate climate. We performed multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT) to obtain information on the body prior to autopsy. MSCT clearly illustrated old fractures in the right lower leg. Bone resists destruction during body decomposition. If antemortem medical records of the deceased are available, MSCT scanning can provide information for positive identification. At autopsy, the cervical tissues presented as a dried mass, and it was difficult to separately remove the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage. Fractures of the large horn of the hyoid bone and superior horn of the thyroid cartilage, which are not observed in all strangulation cases, strongly suggest criminal activity. The diagnosis of these fractures is of great value. In our case, MSCT revealed that there was no fracture in the hyoid bone or ossified area of the thyroid cartilage. Hard tissues are usually well preserved in mummies. Although MSCT images have limits in mummies because of the severe dryness of soft tissues and organs, they could become a useful tool not only for personal identification, but also for the identification of neck compression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-462
Number of pages5
JournalJapanese Journal of Radiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun


  • Forensic autopsy
  • Forensic radiology
  • Multi-slice computed tomography
  • Natural mummification
  • Postmortem CT


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