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Medieval grave included coffin birth, early neurosurgery

Researchers have made a rare discovery - a medieval woman who died while pregnant who also had  early form of neurosurgery, as well as,  a coffin birth.

A young woman, who experts believe was between the ages of 25 and 35 years old, had a surgery called trepanation and they think it was done only a week before she died sometime in the seventh or eighth century. Trepanation is when a hole is drilled into the skull of a living person. If it was not drilled, the hole was scrapped in the skull. Either way, the hole would be used to treat pain due to trauma or neurological disease, the BBC reported.

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Skulls with trepanation holes have been found all over the world, the BBC reported.

The woman was 38 weeks pregnant when she died, CNN reported.

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Researchers found the bones of a fetus along with the woman’s remains in the brick coffin.

They say the baby was a coffin birth or a rare occurrence when the gases that build up during decomposition expel the baby.

Researchers say to find both the coffin birth and the trepanation, especially trepanation during the European early middle ages, in one person’s remains is extremely rare, CNN reported

The study concerning the woman’s remains, which were discovered in 2010, was recently published in the journal for World Neurology.

Doctors don’t know why she had the brain procedure, but speculate that she may have had pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, and that it was used to relieve pressure she had in her head. Bone healing around the hole in her skull shows that she lived about a week after she had the procedure, CNN reported.

The woman, doctors said, was in good health, but she may have had an illness that wouldn’t be reflected in her skeleton. They also are not sure if the baby would have been able to be born alive, but it was late in the pregnancy, as the baby was about 38 weeks, CNN reported.

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