New Imaging Firm Opens in Kampala

Radiotherapist Kari Mawerere says many Ugandans are afraid of taking x-rays because of myths that x-rays cut one’s life short.

“After getting x-rayed, patients ask: ‘So, how many days have I cut from my life?'” Mawerere says.

He explains to them that this is erroneous. For you to suffer from radiation effects, he says, you have to be exposed to a certain amount of ionising radiation. The amount of radiation patients are exposed to during routine x-rays is too little and very harmless.

Regardless of such explanations, however, myths are very resilient creatures, and always find a way to linger on. Allena Nabawanuka, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) operator at Kampala MRI centre, confirms that largely, Ugandans are afraid of being x-rayed. Some would rather try alternative imaging options such as CT scans and MRI.

On June 11, the Kampala MRI centre officially opened shop, although they have been offering MRI services since January. According to the centre’s operations manager, Marieke Janssen, increasing the number of MRI machines in Uganda to four will improve access and lower costs and end-user fees.

On average, an MRI scan today costs between Shs 650,000 and 700,000. Facilities offering MRI include Nakasero and Kampala hospitals, Besta and Kampala MRI centre.

Conditions diagnosed by MRI include diseases of the brain, spine and nerves, heart, vessels, lungs, breast, liver and the bile system, prostate, kidneys, joints and bones.

MRI Vs X-rays:

Nabawanuka, who formerly operated x-rays, says she finds MRI images more detailed.

“If I used an MRI machine to look at the brain of a stroke patient, I would get a clearer picture than I would if I used an x-ray machine. The MRI image will show how severe the attack was and the extent of damage. It will show the brain tissue and lesions sustained during the stroke,” Nabawanuka says.

Janssen says that with MRI technology, it is hard to miss a disease.

“If you are imaging the chest, MRI technology will enable you to see the surface of the chest and anything that is buried within, making it hard to miss a disease. The same goes for the spine you will be able to see the surface, inside, in between and the back of the spine,” Janssen says.

The technology also shows the exact location of tumours.

“With a CT scan, the presence of a tumour will be diagnosed. Then the surgeon will have to operate to know its exact location. An MRI image will show the exact location of the tumour,” Janssen says.

Better diagnosis means getting the right treatment and better treatment outcomes. In spite of all its aantages, Mawerere says that for certain diagnoses, one is better off using CT scans.

“If you want an image of bones, you should go for a CT scan. MRIs are better for soft tissues,” Mawerere says.

High-field strength:

Willem van Prooijen, the managing director of Kampala MRI centre, says that two facilities in Uganda, including his firm, offer high-field strength MRI services, enabling more accurate diagnosis.

“High-field strength MRI machines give ger, clearer images and the clearer and ger your image is, the more details you will be able to see,” Prooijen says.

High-field strength MRI machines have Telsa strengths of 1.5 and above. Some MRI machines have special features such as 3D and diffusion, which enable better investigations.

Source : The Observer

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