By Francis Kagolo
Ugandans suffering from stroke and those with defect blood vessels no longer have to go abroad for diagnosis, thanks to a high-tech CT scanner acquired by Nsambya hospital.
According to Dr. Iga Matovu, a consultant radiologist at Mulago hospital, the 128-slice high-end scanner installed early this month will also ease heart and kidney disease examinations as well as diagnosis of cancer and tumors.
“Acquisition of high-end scanners improves diagnosis, quality of treatment and reduces the burden of traveling abroad for sophisticated diagnosis,” Matovu said.
He was speaking at a workshop organised to educate medics from various health facilities on the proper use of a 128-slice scanner, the first of its kind in Uganda.
The workshop at Serena Hotel, Kampala, attracted over a hundred medics.
Dr. Matovu said Uganda has a shortage of Computerized Tomography (CT) scanners which affects diagnosis of key diseases.
According to him, there are only 12 CT scanners in the country, most of which, including the one at Mulago, are slow and less efficient because are made up of few slices with an average of 16.
Nsambya’s 128-slice scanner, he said, will ease diagnosis of sophisticated diseases hitherto referred to better equipped hospitals in Nairobi and other parts of the world.
The scanner has a higher speed with lower radiation exposure to the patient compared to others on the market. It also produces a sharp 3D image which, according to Matovu, shows the disease more explicitly.
Scanning one’s body from the chest to the waist which usually requires 30 seconds will now take only six seconds, he said.
“Unlike other scanners in the country, this one can tell how much of the brain is not functioning because of a stroke, how much is at risk of getting stroke and how much is still normal,” Dr. Matovu explained.
A stroke occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die after a few minutes. Sudden bleeding in the brain also can cause a stroke if it damages brain cells.
Stroke symptoms include sudden weakness; paralysis or numbness of the face, arms, or legs; trouble speaking or understanding speech; and trouble seeing. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
It is estimated that 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year while three million women and 2.5 million men die as a direct result.
Dr. Geoffrey Eremu, the head of the radiology department at Nsambya hospital, said that treating strokes had become a challenge in Uganda because the available scanners could not critically image the functioning of the brain.
Dr. Martin Nsubuga, the executive director Nsambya Hospital, said the Siemens-manufactured scanner cost sh1.8b, much of which was a loan.