Taking "Pictures" in Radiology


Foot X-RayBangladeshis generally don’t smile for their pictures and that’s ok in our Radiology department. Our three skilled radiology technicians stay busy much of the day posing people and taking their x-rays. Despite antiquated equipment, much of which has been in place since the hospital was built in the 1960’s, they are able to provide the full spectrum of “plain films” as well as more sophisticated studies such as cholangiograms, pyelograms, and everybody’s favorite, barium enemas. They dutifully pose the patient in just the right position, set the radiation level, snap their picture, then run off to the dark room to develop the film. Yes, in this day and age of everything digital we are still using the old fashioned x-ray films and a water-tank developer. Our technicians are good but are severely hampered by outdated, antiquated, overused equipment. It is becoming increasingly embarrassing that down the street ten minutes by motorcycle in a small office located in a dark alley, patients are able to get state of the art digital radiographs. We are praying for God to provide the funding and expertise to be able to upgrade our own system to digital.

Radiology DepartmentThis was all brought home to me last week when we had a call for “all hands on deck”. A truck full of young Bangladeshi soldiers drove off the road flipping over several times. Before we knew it every available space was filled with men on stretchers with injuries ranging from simple lacerations to spinal fractures, and they ALL needed x-rays. Our technicians were busy to say the least. They were hampered, though, by the length of time it took to develop each film through the multiple chemical baths—frequently realizing that the patient had moved slightly or the settings were off and the x-ray needed to be repeated. A bottle-neck occurred as we impatiently waited for x-rays to determine whether ribs were broken and a lung had collapsed, or the elbow pain was from a fracture, or the neck pain was from a fractured spine. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given that morning to have digital x-ray available. I could have seen a picture of the x-ray on the computer screen within seconds of having it taken and it could have been repeated immediately if needed. I wouldn’t even need to go to the radiology department or have to have film brought to me. I could check the films on a computer in our emergency department or in the surgery clinic in real time.

Please pray with us that God would provide the necessary finances for updated digital radiography so we can better be able to meet the needs of the patients God brings to us.

Oh, I guess I should mention that all 16 soldiers were examined, diagnosed, stabilized, treated, and transferred before lunch. Ambulances took most of them, but much to my daughter’s delight their homeschool was interrupted by a military helicopter landing in the soccer field to evacuate three of the more serious patients. All that on top of an already busy day seeing around 40 surgical and orthopedic outpatients and several times that many medical and OB patients—TIB! (This Is Bangladesh!)

—Submitted by Dr. Nathan Piovesan