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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Dec;181(6):1473-9.

Radiologic evaluation of the Llullaillaco mummies.

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Institute of High Mountain Research, Catholic University of Salta, Pellegrini 790, Salta A4400FYP, Argentina.



Our purpose was to determine the imaging findings in three 500-year-old frozen mummies of sacrificial Inca children.


CT, conventional radiography, and dental radiography of Inca mummies were reviewed. Different techniques, which were adjusted to the anatomic position of the bodies, were used for radiologic analyses. Working sessions were limited to 20 min because of the fragility of these mummies and to prevent thawing of the specimens.


Internal organs in good condition with a natural shrinkage caused by dehydration were shown on CT scans. Both white and gray matter were clearly observed in the brain and cerebellum. The white matter and the fatty tissue of the bodies were visibly white. This condition was possibly caused by the transformation of the fatty tissue into a waxlike substance and the deposition of calcium salts. The lungs were expanded in all three mummies. The ages of the three children at the time of their deaths were estimated by means of radiographs of the teeth and long bones. Bone mineralization, the muscular volume, and the thickness of the adipose panniculus indicated the good nutritional state of the three Inca children. The spleen was not visualized in any case.


Radiology helped us determine the state of the internal organs, the nutritional conditions, and the physical abnormalities of the naturally mummified children. These mummies can be considered among the best preserved mummies currently known.

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