Picture Courtesy: Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital Facebook

Lone CT scan machine in JDWNRH broken down since 5th October fixed only recently

The only Computed Tomography (CT) scan machine in Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) brokedown since 5 October 2020 and was only fixed recently. There was some delay in fixing the machine as the technician was  out of Thimphu.

They had used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as an alternative measure. Regional hospitals in Mongar and Gelephu have a CT scan machine each. The machine is used for scanning: the brain, staging of cancers, chest, upper and lower abdomen, bone fractures, lung, kidney and trauma.

Medical Superintendent of JDWNRH Dr Gosar Pemba said that they are using MRI as an alternative. In any emergencies, patients undergo MRI as the function of both the machines are almost similar. Those with no emergencies can wait until the machine is being fixed, he said.

“The only difference is MRI takes longer time (at least 45 min for each patient) while CT scan just takes 5 min for each patient. Therefore, we advice them to do CT scan rather than MRI as we fail to meet the targeted patients with MRI. But in such situation we have no choice than to go for MRI,” he added.

In a year, 5,552 patients have undergone CT scan while 2,802 have undergone MRI. The function of MRI is, it can make precise detection of soft tissues, spinal cord injuries and brain tumors. 

He said that before the COVID-19 situation, they used to send patients to Gelephu for a CT scan if they have long list of patients in waiting or if there is any breakdown. However, due to pandemic they cannot do that as they have to undergo a number of protocols, including the 7-day quarantine.

In the past years, the patients can go and get their CT scan done in one day and they can return the same day for further treatment, he added. “The CT scan machines in Gelephu and Mongar hospitals are hardly being utilized. To do a CT scan, a patient will have to wait for minimum one week,” he added.

He had said that the machine is under comprehensive maintenance whereby the GLT company (who supplied the machine) will fix the machine, but the technician who was supposed to fix the machine had just reached back to Thimphu last week.

“He went to fix the dialysis machine in Gelephu hospital and he had to undergo the 7-day quarantine which is why there was a delay in fixing the machine. Now that he is back, the machine is expected is fixed,” he added.

However, he said that, if he had failed to fix the machine than they would  have to bring in the engineers from abroad.

Not having an engineer in the country to fix those machines right away is one challenge, he said, adding that though they have Bhutanese counterparts, they sometime fail to fix the machines.

He said, “Three machines in the country is more than enough whereby even if one machine breaks down, there are other means of doing it. The machines in Gelephu and Mongar is same as not being utilized as they receive only 25-30 patients in a month. So, no additional machine is required as of now.”  

Even if they have machines in regional hospitals, people from other districts come to Thimphu for CT scan and MRI.

All the three CT scan machines are donated by JICA in June 2018. The CT scan machine of 64 slice capacity and mammography machine was provided to JDWNRH while CT Scan of 16 slice capacity each were provided to the two regional referral hospitals in Gelephu and Mongar.  A CT Scan machine cost around US$ 800,000 while MRI machine cost around US$ 1.3 mn.

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