Digital X-Ray On-The-Go in Kenya

In Kenya, a country home to over 43 million people and just 200 radiologists, to access imaging may seem slim to many citizens, especially those in rural Kenyan areas. In rural locations, radiological equipment is scarce and facilities may not be up to date technologically. Additional concerns, like transportation and cost, can complicate the situation even further.

While the solution may not be a quick one, radiologists are working to reach these patients who otherwise might not have access to life altering radiology services.

David Avrin, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Radiology and Vice Chair for Informatics at UCSF, was invited by Marc Kohli, MD, and Indiana University to participate in their longstanding relationship with Moi University Medical School in Eldoret, western Kenya.

Dr. Avrin joined the program on a trip to an outlying rural Kenyan clinic with no radiology facilities on a prototype truck equipped as a fully self-contained digital x-ray room with access to power. While Moi Medical Center has dozens of remote clinics, most of these sites have no radiology facilities. The long-term plan is to have a fleet of these trucks, visiting each clinic weekly for a half day. The trucks used by Dr. Avrin and the team of radiologists were designed and supervised by Dr. Kohli for this function. Funding for these special trucks was through the US National Library of Medicine and USAID.

On Dr. Avrin’s trip, almost 40 patients were imaged, with images archived using the DICOM standard. Patients in need of TB surveillance, AIDS follow-up and pediatric pneumonia underwent imaging with the traveling imaging stations.

At each stop, a CD containing the day’s studies was left at the remote clinic, and could be viewed on the clinic’s PC. A second CD was brought back to the main department, where Dr. Kohli is supervising installation of an open source PACS system.

While on the two week visit to Kenya, Dr. Avrin presented multiple case conferences to the registrars and participated in clinical activities.

“My youngest daughter Hannah has always encouraged me to work in the Third World, but it is difficult to find the right opportunities in radiology, compared to say, surgery, and Doctors without Borders. When Marc described what he was doing in Kenya to me at a SIIM dinner a couple years ago, I told him I was ‘in’. This was the perfect combination of teaching very knowledgeable and enthusiastic trainees, combined with informatics and clinical work. The first exposure to Africa is an incredible experience. I look forward to going back. Marc and IU are doing great work. I appreciate the support of UCSF Radiology and Biomedical Imaging to give me the time to participate in this effort.”

For more information about the offering imaging services to Kenya, click here.