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Ultrasound skills to avoid unnecessary surgery

Updated: Apr 6

Here at Worldwide Radiology, we believe that the use of radiology can make a huge difference giving patients the correct diagnosis and improving the quality of patient care.


Dr. Karen Chetcuti, together with the team at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, have recently treated a little boy who was brought to the emergency department with cramping pains in his stomach and blood in his stool.




Hospital surgeons, supported by Dr. Karen Chetcuti, performed a scan by the bedside and could see a so-called “intussusception”, that is when the bowel folds into itself and becomes blocked.


This is an emergency condition that often needs surgery if there is no ultrasound or X-ray service available.


Luckily, in this case, surgery was avoided by the surgeon working together with Dr. Chetcuti to perform a water enema and gently pushing back the folded bowel, using the ultrasound to watch the bowel and make sure everything was happening safely.


Within minutes the bowel returned to its normal position and the child recovered immediately. He left the hospital the next day, wrapped in the arms of his smiling parents.


Teaching surgical trainees this ultrasound skill means that they can use this technique to avoid unnecessary surgery, even in situations where there is no radiologist to assist them.

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