Soft and Bony Tissue Biopsy Histology and Pathology

One of the primary uses of the medical endoscope is to obtain samples for pathological analysis. These analyses can help determine tissue type and the presence of disease. It follows that the VE used for anthropological research can accomplish those same goals. In mummified human remains, tissue elements of organs and organ systems are not necessarily in their appropriate anatomical position, nor is their morphology the same as while living. In a crypt mummy from the Church of the Holy Trinity in Popoli, Italy, a biopsy was taken using the laparoscopic technique of what was believed to be lung tissue. After rehy-dration of that tissue, it was found to be diaphragm and not lung tissue. Even so, once the tissue was stained and examined microscopically, the sample demonstrated calcifications (Figure 4.37), indicating a long-standing disease process (Ventura 2002). Tissue sampling

Figure 4.37 Rehydrated and stained diaphragm tissue showing calcifications. Tissue samples were collected under videoendoscopic visualization.
Figure 4.38 Various instruments used for tissue biopsy. Top left—Medical biopsy forceps and cytology brush. Top right—Percutaneous needle. Bottom left—Miscellaneous medical instruments. Bottom right—Mechanics gripping device for larger samples.

can be used to determine if the tissue remnants are, in fact organs, thereby suggesting a mummification method that did or did not remove internal organs. Further, lymph tissue, calcifications seen on x-ray, and bony lesions can be biopsied and further analyzed for traces of disease. Following rehydration, the ancient tissue can be pathologically examined and probability data may be statistically determined if the population size is large enough.

Biopsy can be conducted in a variety of ways. Biopsy using CT guidance (Chapter 3), the locator grid field technique (Chapter 2), and the laparoscopic biopsy technique described earlier in this chapter all demonstrate proven methods for target-specific biopsy. Standard medical biopsy forceps work well, but the yield is often too small for diagnosis. Larger collection tools and needle biopsy instruments can be used to enhance the yield and the diagnostic capability (Figure 4.38). Samples should be handled with the same care as if from a living individual. Contamination should be avoided, and sterile containers should be used.

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