Dual Energy Computed Tomography

Non-destructive imaging techniques produce multi-dimensional visualization of mummies, enabling in-depth study while preserving them for future generations. Computed tomography (CT) imaging, commonly used in medical applications, has previously been employed for 3D visualization of mummies,1 but requires a human operator to distinguish and segment features of interest from the resulting images. This task is tedious and can result in errors should two differing materials produce the same CT number. Dual-energy CT is a technique that uses two sets of CT images acquired with different x-ray energies to enable automated identification of up to three different materials, including bone.2 Although dual-energy CT has been used on clinical data,3 to the best of our knowledge, it has not yet been used for bone identification in mummies.

Several Egyptian mummies have been scanned using a GE Lightspeed VCT 64 slice CT scanner with energies of 80 kV and 140 kV. We have performed automated bone identification on an adult mummy from the Royal Ontario Museum collection. Results are consistent with skeletal structures and comparable to those obtained from manual segmentation, with some misidentification of material present. Automated bone identification of a non-intact infant mummy was performed and demonstrates the technique’s potential for difficult cases in which bone material is not easily identifiable by a human operator.

We are optimizing our automatic segmentation technique to improve accuracy and reduce noise using a priori knowledge of the mummy composition as well as improved algorithms. Analysis of additional mummies, particularly cases in which automatic segmentation is problematic, and comparison with results using other imaging modalities are planned.

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