'Portable CT scanning machines can shorten queues at hospitals'

Portable bedside CT scan machines are a possible solution to the frequent breakdown of the standard machines at Delhi government hospitals, say doctors at JPN Apex Trauma Centre, AIIMS. The trauma centre and AIIMS have three such machines, which they say come very handy when quick CT scans of the head needs to be done.

However, none of the Delhi government hospitals have this machine and there are no plans as of now to procure them either. In fact, some senior health officials did not even know about the existence of these mobile machines.

These machines are handicapped in the sense that they are not capable of scanning the whole body and can be used only for the head.

However, costing only around Rs 2 crore, and almost one-third the price of regular ones, they do not face problems in terms of safety standards which need to be met with the normal machines. Often, these safety clearances take a lot of time, delaying the installation of the machines.

“Normally we have to wait a few hours before we shift the patient for the scan. Even then, they have things such as ventilators, pipe supplying blood and sometimes food pipes connected to them. These things can get dislodged while shifting them,” said Dr Deepak Aggarwal, senior neurosurgeon at AIIMS trauma centre.

They had earlier bought one such machine, but encouraged by its success, another one was purchased very recently.

“We don’t have to wait for hours for detection of the problem, unlike earlier. We begin the scan immediately after a patient is wheeled in. I believe every single hospital should have this machine,” he added.

An official in the health department, while acknowledging the need for the portable machines, said many government hospitals do not want to entertain patients with head injuries, either due to the complications involved or due to lack of specialists.

“These could come handy at least for patients with head injuries who are at greater risk and need immediate tests and scanning,” he said.

Patients at government hospitals are often forced to wait for days or opt for private labs for CT scans in case of breakdown of the existing CT scanners. Even when the machines function, long queues are a norm, given the rush.

For example, the radiology department of GB Pant Hospital has two machines.
While authorities in the department claimed that they do not face significant problems, they said they conduct the scans using one machine during intermittent breakdowns.

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