PNG Public health system gets first MRI scanner

Papua New Guinea has installed one  of the most modern magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, which will help in the detection of cancer, at Port Moresby General Hospital.

The MRI scanner can give better images of a patient’s brain, spine, bones, joints and muscles to detect the disease, whereas a standard CT scanner is more suitable for the chest, heart, lymph nodes and blood vessels.

It was put into operation yesterday in what chief radiologist Dr Dora Leutrut described as a dream come true for the public health system and for the hospital.

"THIS advanced diagnostic tool can give extremely clear images of the inside of the human body," Dr Leutrut said.

The K5 million project was funded by the National Fisheries Authority and the Sir Theo Foundation supported the funding of getting MRI expert Dr Parveen Gulati and MRI technician Mr Harbansh Bhatia from India to train PNG doctors and technicians. She said that 51 patients have been scanned during the training this year.

Dr Leutrut says the General Electric 1.5 Tesla MRI Scanner is one of the most advanced MRI scanner in its class in the world. She said one important use of the MRI was in cancer patients where precise visualisation of cancer inside the body could help the doctors in surgical planning or prevent an unnecessary surgery in an advanced cancer patient.

"Because the MRI uses a powerful magnet, patients with any metal implants and any metal objects cannot enter the MRI room.

"We cannot take .any metal equipment like stretchers, oxygen cylinders or ventilators inside the room as they will get immediately attracted to the MRI and can damage the machine irreparably," she said. "PMGH Radiology Department now has also has a 128 Slice Ultrafast CT Scanner, Digital Mammography and full-fledged Digital Radiography with a IT system that enables the doctors to see the images immediately right at the bedside or in clinics.

"A MRI uses powerful magnetic forces to obtain internal organ images. This is safer that a CT scanner that uses radiation (X-rays) to obtain images of the internal organs," she said.

Hospital chief executive officer Dr Umesh Gupta said evidence-based medicine needs very advanced diagnostic tools and the hospital was on this much needed path of modernisation.

He said the hospital had not finalised how much to charge patients but it would be about K2500 to K3000. Health Minister Michael Malabag said the MRI was a significant advancement in health care.

"I am particularly pleased with fact that our own PNG technicians have been trained to operate the MRI rather than getting an overseas technician," he said. Post Courier/ONE PNG
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