Ivinson Memorial Hospital and the University of Wyoming collaborate on many projects. The most recent project includes providing high resolution CT scans on a set of human remains that date from around 1850 to 1870 and are associated with the Oregon/California trail that runs through Wyoming.

The remains are of a female pioneer of European descent who died along the trail. The bones are special, as they exhibit some very unusual features.

“It appears she had a procedure called a symphysiotomy in an effort to enlarge the birth canal. Very little information regarding this procedure is available for the 19th century, making the remains very unique,” commented Rick Weathermon, PhD, Senior Academic Research Scientist with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming.

Symphysiotomies became a routine surgical procedure for women experiencing an obstructed labor, especially in areas of the world where caesarean section was not possible.

The bones of the traveler tell many stories, which collectively, have led researchers to a possible identity.

“We may actually have identification on this woman based on information contained in diaries from trail travelers. The remains are scheduled to be reburied in early May. We would like to gather as much information as possible on the skeleton prior to that time,” said Weathermon.

Susan Harnsberger, Director of the Radiology Department at IMH noted, “We always welcome opportunities to work with the University. We have been impressed with the staff and student’s respectful treatment of human remains and artifacts. The Ivinson Memorial Radiology department is committed to those same values.”