Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 41, Issue 9, pp 1065–1069 | Cite as

A 1810 skull of Napoleon army’s soldier: a clinical–anatomical correlation of steam gun trauma

  • N. BenmoussaEmail author
  • F. Crampon
  • A. Fanous
  • P. Charlier
Original Article



In the following article, we are presenting a clinical observation of Baron Larrey. In 1804, Larrey was the inspector general of health, as well as the chief surgeon of the imperial Napoleonic Guard. He participated in all of Napoleon’s campaigns. A paleopathological study was performed on a skull from Dupuytren’s Museum (Paris) with a long metal stick in the head. We report here a clinical case as well as the autopsy description of this soldier’s skull following his death. We propose a different anatomical analysis of the skull, which allowed us to rectify what we believe to be an anatomical error and to propose varying hypotheses regarding the death of soldier Cros.

Materials and methods

The skull was examined, observed and described by standard paleopathology methods. Measurements of the lesion were performed with metric tools and expressed in centimeters. Historical research was made possible through the collaboration with the Museum of Medicine History-Paris Descartes University.


Following the above detailed anatomical analysis of the path of the metal rod, we propose various possible lesions in soldier Cros due to the accident. At the inlet, the frontal sinuses could have been damaged. At the level of the second portion of the intracranial path, all of the anatomical elements present in the cavernous sinus could have been injured (cranial nerves III, IV, V1 and V2, VI, internal carotid artery and cavernous sinus). The exit orifice of the foreign body passes through the left condylar fossa of the occipital bone, points to a highly probable lesion of the left hypoglossal nerve (12th cranial nerve).


The paleopathological study of human remains, when combined with anatomical and clinical knowledge of the pathologies of the head and neck, can rectify diagnoses of the past.


Larrey Paleopathology Skull base 


Author contribution

NB: projet development, data collection, data analysis, manuscript writing. FC: data analysis, manuscript writing. AF: manuscript writing. PC projet development, manuscript writing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Benmoussa
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • F. Crampon
    • 3
    • 4
  • A. Fanous
    • 5
  • P. Charlier
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Section of Medical and Forensic Anthropology (UVSQ/EA4498 DANTE Laboratory)UFR of Health SciencesMontigny-Le-BretonneuxFrance
  2. 2.Department of Head and Neck Cancerology Gustave Roussy InstitutVillejuifFrance
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyRouen UniversityRouenFrance
  4. 4.Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryRouen University HospitalRouenFrance
  5. 5.Division of Facial Plastic Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck SurgeryMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  6. 6.Quai Branly Museum, Jacques ChiracParisFrance

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