Hospital C.T. scanner broken down

The computed tomography (or C.T. scan) at the National Hospital in Moto'otua has been down for nearly a month, hospital staff say, potentially compromising the treatment of patients with internal injuries.

Four staff at the national hospital, who declined to be named because they are not authorised to speak to the media, said the machine had been broken down for at least three weeks. 

Some patients with New Zealand passports and who are well enough to travel, have chosen to travel to New Zealand for treatment. 

A family member of a recent patient who was admitted with a  stroke, who did not wish to be named, confirmed they were rushed to the hospital due to a stroke last week but doctors said the C.T. scan has been down for the past two weeks.

On the night the patient was admitted, the medical officers could not determine whether the patient had a clot or bleeding in her brain and without the C.T. scan, they were unable to fully diagnose her condition that night. 

The C.T. scan combines a series of x-ray images taken from different angles around the body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images which can aid doctors diagnose internal injuries, heart problems, diagnose and locate tumours and bone disorders among other uses.

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The family members were told that there was not much they could do apart from close monitoring. They added that. despite the scan not being performed, the doctors tried their best and, fortunately, they were discharged a week later.

The national hospital has only one C.T. scanner. The cost of a complete replacement can vary from US$100,000 to $1 million, according to Radiology Today magazine.

The Samoa Observer has not been able to independently confirm the cause of the current breakdown and the extent of repairs required.

External medical aid from countries such as Australia and New Zealand has been flowing into Samoa recently in response to the nation's measles epidemic. 

Their use in modern medicine has accelerated since 2004 but has not been without controversy, as some specialists say it exposes patients to too much radiation according to the New York Times. 

C.T. scans are also able to detect bone and joint problems and internal injuries and bleeding, such as those caused by a car accident.

Reliable sources have told Samoa Observer that those who need to undergo C.T. scans have been scheduled to line up for a scan once it is up and running again.

Questions to the Ministry of Health were not answered by close of business on Thursday.

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