Medical imaging has a vital role in modern healthcare systems, and patients expect to find up-to-date, modern technology when they visit health facilities.
But the Director General of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), Dr. Yau Idris, recently revealed that over 60 per cent of all the x-ray equipment in Nigeria was obsolete.
According to him, even the second-hand x-ray equipment were imported into the country without a view of the age and the availability of the spare parts.
“Most of the x-ray equipment in the country are obsolete: Their ages range from 10 to 60 years. And these equipment are operated under sub-optimal conditions,”
Following this revelation, THE WHISTLER spoke to a radiologist to know the effect of using outdated X-ray machines on human health.
Dr. Oyomi Joseph, a radiologist at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, said once an X-ray machine exceeds expiration it would lead to malfunctioning of the equipment including leakage of radiation.
“We have different modern x-ray machines that could last longer than 10 years , but for every machine there should be a check and balance system which includes quality control vis a vis the functionality of the machine
“There is a tube where the X-rays passes to transmits to the the patient body, so when the machine is outdated there may be a leakage on any part of the tube aside the normal passage for the radiation.”
Dr. Joseph explained that when this happens unwanted radiations may get on the patient’s body.
“There is a calculated amount of radiation that should be transmitted to different parts of the human body but when there is a leakage more radiation than necessary will come out.”
In addition, to get a clear image of X-ray when using an expired equipment, the radiographer may need to increase the dose of radiation which may affect ovarian and testicular cells leading to infertility.
“Radiations in general even though has several benefits like killing cancer cells, an abnormally high dosage can alter the functionalities of the cells in the body and that can also spring up to cancer.
“It can also affect certain cells in the body like, cells of the ovaries, and the testicles and this will lead to infertility,” he stated.
In addition, the leakage from an obsolete X-ray may affect the quality of the image produced.
“When there are additional radiations produced it might cause shadows on the image. This leakages can also occur in new machines but is often common with expired machines,” he said.
But the good news is that radiologists know when to expose patients to radiation.
“Radiations generally in X-ray is minimal than others but its only when necessary to expose anyone to radiation that we do. There are situations that radiation does not give any additional yield.”