As part of the Digitised Diseases project we envisioned doing CT scans of some of the more complex pathological conditions to complement the 3D models and conventional radiographs. Later posts will (hopefully) contain some of the images generated from the CT scans.

As part of the specimen selection and pathological description process, specimens that would be ideal for CT scans/radiography were flagged by the project team. Often these specimens had detail that is not visible (i.e. internal changes), ideal candidates for CT scans.

As the specimens were going off-site, we discussed the best way of packing and protecting the bones from getting damaged whilst in transit. Prof. Niels Lynnerup and his doctoral student Chiara Villa provided advice on best practice for packing and ways of scanning multiple bones simultaneously.

This is what we did:

scan box

BARC placement student Tatiana Dvorak made up trays that slotted directly into a standard skeleton box. Three of these trays fit into a box, with extra room at the top for larger bones.

Packed box

We then placed specimens in the box and created card dividers to limit movement. The bones were then further packed with acid free tissue paper, on the advice of the project PI Dr. Andy Wilson (who originally trained as a conservator, so knows a thing or two about packing delicate specimens for transportation!).

We also photographed and made plans of each tray, as well as filling out the BARC exit form. This is essential, as it is a formal log of all the specimens leaving the BARC, which is then used to log the specimens back in when they return.

We packed 5 boxes. Four of these had three trays in. The fifth box  had three crania in – similarly packed with card dividers and acid free tissue paper.

The system worked brilliantly. I unpacked the boxes and returned the specimens to the BARC store yesterday. We had no losses or damage – and the data looks amazing (but that is for a later post!).