19 Sep 2005

Battlefield ultrasound machines crucial in Pacific medicine, conference told

7:18 am on 19 September 2005

A Samoan surgeon says portable ultrasound machines, as used in battlefield trauma medicine, are invaluable diagnostic tools for surgeons working in the Pacific Islands.

Semisi Aiona told a meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in the New Zealand city of Hamilton that the portable ultrasound machine could make rapid, accurate diagnosis.

Mr Aiona says this aids prompt treatment and efficient use of scarce resources.

He says despite their cost and problems in training and maintaining skill levels, the machines are a boon to people in Pacific Islands, with little access to specialist radiology services.

Although common in New Zealand hospitals there are only two portable ultrasound machines at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Public Hospital in Samoa.

Mr Aiona reviewed 190 scans of patients ranging in age from seven months to 92 years, 79 of which were emergency admissions.