Cape Town - Injured patients taken to Groote Schuur Hospital’s trauma unit can now have the their injuries assessed in less than 15 seconds, thanks to a new X-ray scanner which produces digital body images.
The low-radiation South African-designed Lodox machine featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy last year. It was developed by De Beers in the 1990s to scan miners for smuggled diamonds.
It not only produces better quality images than conventional X-rays, but is far quicker, enabling doctors to treat patients within the golden hour – the first hour after injury when there is a better chance of saving lives.
The machine can detect anything from punctured lungs, accumulation of blood around injured parts to bullets and bone fractures.
Groote Schuur is one of the only three hospitals in the country that has the multimillion-rand technology; the others are Tygerberg and Upington hospitals.
Professor Andrew Nicol, head of Groote Schuur’s trauma unit, said having the machine at the trauma unit’s resuscitation room would help emergency staff to save lives.
“It’s the most incredible piece of technology. It will help us with life-saving information, and allow us space to attend to more patients quickly and transfer them for further treatment such as theatre if they need emergency surgery.”
Groote Schuur was one of the most overburdened hospitals in the Western Cape, seeing from 1 000 to 1 400 trauma patients a month, and performing 150 to 180 resuscitations a month. Nicol said the trauma unit was about four times busier than a similar-sized US hospital.
Christian Di Zio, marketing manager for Lodox, said because of its low-dose radiation it was safe for patients and medical staff. While staff operating conventional X-rays machines had to wear heavy lead coats to prevent an accumulation of radiation – which was associated with cancer – there was no need for those preventative measures. - Cape Argus