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Ivory Manikin
Science & Technology

Stunning Secrets of Medicine’s Mysterious Ivory Manikins Uncovered

That is an ivory figurine reclining on its ‘mattress’ with all organs positioned inside. Credit score: Research creator and RSNA

Little is thought concerning the origins of manikins—small anatomical sculptures thought for use by medical doctors 4 centuries in the past—however now superior imaging strategies have provided a revealing glimpse inside these charming ivory dolls. Researchers utilizing micro-CT efficiently recognized the fabric composition and parts of a number of historical ivory manikins, in keeping with a brand new examine being introduced subsequent week on the annual assembly of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Ivory manikins are usually thought to have been carved in Germany within the late 17th century. They’re reclining human collectible figurines, 4-8 inches lengthy, typically feminine, which open to disclose detachable organs and generally a fetus connected with a cloth “umbilical” wire. The manikins have intricately carved options, and a few even have pillows beneath their heads. It’s believed that they had been used for the examine of medical anatomy or maybe as a educating assist for being pregnant and childbirth. By the 18th century, they’d been changed by extra life like educating instruments, reminiscent of wax fashions and cadavers. The manikins then turned objects of curiosity and luxurious standing symbols in non-public collections.

That is an Ivory manikin after elimination of the belly and chest wall, ribs, and half of the uterus. Inside organs such because the lungs, intestines, in addition to a fetus contained in the uterus are seen. Credit score: Research creator and RSNA

Duke College in Durham, N.C., holds the world’s largest assortment of manikins (22 out of 180 identified manikins worldwide). Most of the manikins within the Duke assortment had been bought within the Thirties and Forties by Duke thoracic surgeon Josiah Trent, M.D., and his spouse Mary Duke Biddle Trent, previous to the 1989 ivory commerce ban. The researchers famous that after being donated to the college by Trent’s granddaughters, the manikins have spent most of their time in archival storage bins or behind show glass, as they’re too fragile for normal dealing with.

Micro-CT preliminary scan knowledge. The inner organs and fetus contained in the uterus are seen, just like {a photograph}. Credit score: Research creator and RSNA

“They’re normally saved in a library vault and infrequently rotated right into a particular show unit within the Duke Medical Library for guests to understand,” stated Fides R. Schwartz, M.D., analysis fellow within the Division of Radiology at Duke.

Non-destructive imaging with X-rays and CT has been used prior to now to look at fragile art work and historical artifacts. Imaging of relics has been extraordinarily helpful to the fields of archaeology and paleopathology—the examine of historical illnesses.  

Micro-CT is an imaging method with tremendously elevated decision, in comparison with customary CT. It not solely permits visualization of inside options, it noninvasively gives volumetric details about an object’s microstructure.  

Dr. Schwartz and colleagues hoped that via micro-CT imaging they may decide the ivory kind used within the Duke manikins, uncover any repairs or alterations that weren’t seen to the bare eye, and permit a extra exact estimation of their age.

“The benefit of micro-CT within the analysis of these manikins allows us to investigate the microstructure of the fabric used,” she stated. “Particularly, it permits us to tell apart between ‘true’ ivory obtained from elephants or mammoths and ‘imitation’ ivory, reminiscent of deer antler or whale bone.”

The analysis staff scanned all 22 manikins with micro-CT and located that 20 out of the 22 manikins had been composed of true ivory alone, although supplies like antler might need been cheaper in that point. They found that one manikin was made totally of antler bone, and one manikin contained each ivory and whale bone parts.

Metallic parts had been present in 4 of the manikins, and fibers in two. Twelve manikins contained hinging mechanisms or inside repairs with ivory pins, and one manikin contained a protracted removable pin disguised as a hairpiece.

Probably the most established commerce routes within the 17th and 18th centuries sourced ivory from Africa, main the researchers to consider that since almost all of the manikins had been created from true ivory, it’s doubtless that the ivory obtained to craft the manikins was acquired from the African area.  

“This will likely help in additional narrowing down essentially the most possible manufacturing interval for the manikins,” Dr. Schwartz stated. “As soon as historic commerce routes are extra completely understood, it would turn into clear that the German area of origin had entry to elephant ivory just for a restricted time in the course of the 17th and 18th century, for instance, from 1650 to 1700 A.D.

Moreover, figuring out non-ivory parts within the manikins could present extra accessibility to carbon relationship, permitting the researchers to extra precisely estimate the age of some of the manikins with out harm to the delicate items.

The researchers additionally hope to amass 3D scans to create digital renderings and allow subsequent 3D printed fashions.

“That is doubtlessly worthwhile to scientific, historic and inventive communities, as it will permit show and additional examine of these objects whereas defending the delicate originals,” Dr. Schwartz stated. “Digitizing and 3D printing them will give guests extra entry and alternative to work together with the manikins and might also permit investigators to be taught extra about their historical past.”

Co-authors are Susan A. Churchill, B.S.R.T. (R)(N)(CT), Rachel Ingold, M.A., M.L.S., Sinan Goknur, M.S., Divakar Gupta, M.D., Justin T. Gladman, M.A., Mark Olson, Ph.D., and Tina D. Tailor, M.D.

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