Mpilo hospital scores a first

Dr Xolani Ndlovu, who heads the Nuclear Medicine Department

MPILO Central Hospital in Bulawayo is set to roll out nuclear medicine, the first institution to do so in Zimbabwe, and this will result in advanced diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart, lung, kidney diseases among others.

According to experts, nuclear medicine has the potential for early detection of diseases compared to anatomical imaging modalities at other local hospitals like ultrasound or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

One of the main advantages of nuclear medicine imaging is that in most cases the whole body is analysed allowing advanced treatment options for patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, by way of radiation or chemotherapy.

It is also more detailed and accurate and as such nuclear medicine makes complex medical procedures simpler and safer for patients.

Mpilo Cancer Unit was officially opened in April and only the radiotherapy department has been functional, but with the arrival of quality control equipment needed to roll out nuclear medicine, the whole cancer unit will be operational in due course.

This will be a first in Zimbabwe and previously patients who opted for that procedure had to go out of the country.

Dr Xolani Ndlovu, who heads the Nuclear Medicine Department, said the procedure would help in the treatment of cancer, heart, lung, kidney, thyroid, liver and other diseases.

“We finally got our licence and the duty free certificate to purchase quality control equipment and we are ready to administer nuclear medicine.

“We were supposed to start administering today but we still need to get our technetium — 99m generator,” said Dr Ndlovu.

“These services will not only cater for cancer patients but will benefit others: coronary artery disease, hyperthyroidism and help in lung ventilation and perfusion imaging. We will also be able to do liver functional imaging and other diseases.”

He said Zimbabweans all along were undergoing sub-optimal management of conditions including cancer while those who could afford went abroad for nuclear medicine.

Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body.

Its imaging provides vital information about the functional status of the diseased organ which helps understand the effectiveness of treatment. – Chronicle

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