IR is described as a versatile and minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to treat complex medical conditions and diseases through a tiny incision in the skin.
Dr. Flora Lwakatare, head of the Radiology Department at MNH, said that the IR treatment goes in line with medical training for a number of specialist doctors from MNH, the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI), the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) and the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital (BMH) in Dodoma. It is a service is offered by MNH in collaboration with Yale and Emory universities in the United States.
With interventional radiology, physicians can not only identify an area of the body where something is wrong, but they actually have the ability to do something about the healthcare issue on the spot, she stated.
Other benefits of such interventions include the lack of surgical treatment and shortening patients' recovery time as patients may be treated and go home on the same day.
“It can be used to provide a broad range of treatments such as draining abscesses, treating strokes, embolizing arteries or sampling tissue,” the specialist stated.
During the first camp about 23 patients were successfully treated, and they expect many patients in the second camp which ends on November 9, she further noted.
Dr. Godfrey Mchele, who specializes in surgical gastroenterology at MNH explained that with IR a patient with something wrong in the stomach can be treated without a surgery and leave the patient with no scar.
Noting that It costs more that Sh. 8m per patient to get IR treatment abroad, he said that localizing the service will reduce the burden to the patient as costs relate to equipment while the treatment cost is covered by the hospital.
On his part Dr. Frank Minja who works with Yale University in the United States said that the first 23 patients were successfully treated and all those who receive training can do all the steps with great efficacy.
Yale University authorities decided to conduct practical training in Tanzania as taking a team of doctors abroad is expensive and would not benefit many specialists, he said.
Training staff on using IR enables hospitals gain more return on investment from capital expenditures, also helping doctors improve medical diagnostic procedures, and increase the volume and quality of patient care they provide, he said.
“The method requires little additional investment beyond the cost of training radiologists and disposable equipment such as catheters and biopsy needles,” he pointed out.
Conducting IR training in Tanzania also has the unique benefit of providing immediate access to IR procedures for patients, without having to wait until the trainees complete their training overseas, he said.
These techniques also allow doctors to easily sample human tissue including tumors, determine the type of tumor and personalized treatment for individual patients, he elaborated.
Catheter could also be used to deliver treatment directly in the tumor, allowing for more targeted delivery of the chemotherapeutic agent with decreased side effects, he added.