Medical Miracles

How ultrasound is being used to detect brain swelling in children

Various viruses and other illness cause swelling in the brain. Intra cranial swelling must be identified as soon as possible to avoid brain damage. The problem with MRI and CAT scan equipment is it is expensive and only available in specialised centres or private hospitals. And the waiting lists for an MRI in the public health care system are long. Babies and children who are taken to clinics and day hospitals with illnesses that may give rise to brain swelling are often not diagnosed in time. By the time they end up being sent to Red Cross Children’s Hospital’s Paediatric neurology unit, says Paediatric neurosurgeon Dr Llewellyn Padayachy, its far too late.

So he has come up with a new idea to modify and improve the widely available ultrasound machine. He has collaborated with Swedish engineers to improve the technology so that brain swelling can be detected much earlier. Ultrasound machines are available in just about every day hospital and clinic. He hopes that it will be as accessible and easy for any nurse to use in clinics all over the country, like taking a temperature. And the result will be earlier diagnosing and far better outcomes.

Click below to hear Barbara Friedman unpack the story...

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