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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


BASHIR, AA et al. Quantifying the burden of trauma imaging on the CT scan service at a major trauma centre in South Africa. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2019, vol.57, n.2, pp.48-53. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: Imaging is an integral part of trauma management and the huge burden of trauma in South Africa places substantial pressures on radiology resources. This study aims to provide a holistic overview of the burden of trauma imaging and the cost of trauma to a busy CT scanning facility at a tertiary hospital in South Africa. METHODS: We set out to describe and quantify the impact of blunt poly-trauma on CT scanning services at Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. We aimed to provide a holistic assessment in terms of use of equipment and staff, cost to the hospital and overall usage of CT scanning. RESULTS: Over the four-year study period, 1572 patients required a CT scan following blunt torso trauma (mean age: 30 years, 81% males). Of the 1572 patients, 625 had a chest radiograph (40%), 383 a cervical spine X-ray (24%), 347 a pelvic X-ray (22%), 292 a skull X-ray (18%), 193 a limb X-ray (12%), 133 an abdominal radiograph (8%), and 86 a FAST scan (5%). The 1572 CT included: 967 head, 568 neck, 65 chest, 241 abdominal, 228 pelvic, 12 upper limb, 38 lower limb and 394 had full body (Pan) CT scan. The mean total cost of the CT scanning for blunt poly-trauma is ZAR 12 000. The total cost of CT scanning for blunt poly-trauma is 0.92% of the total hospital expenditure. Roughly 7.8% of the total hours worked by the CT scanner over the time period under review was dedicated to blunt poly-trauma. CONCLUSION: Blunt poly-trauma is a preventable disease, which has a major financial impact on the healthcare system in general. This study has documented the tremendous burden it places on an already stretched CT scanning service.

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