February 3, 2009

Life Saving X-Ray Service Hard to Get in UK

Patients are not being given a life-saving X-ray due to the way the National Health Service's funding operates, the UK's most senior radiologist announced.

Interventional radiology (IR) can be used in many ways, like "cooking" cancerous tumors to stopping blood loss in women after giving birth. However, the head of the Royal College of Radiologists stated that many hospitals cannot offer this service.

Professor Andy Adam wants a review of the endowments for IR.
"The irony is that this would save money by preventing more costly and complicated surgical interventions being carried out," Adam said to BBC News.

Since IR is classified in the field of diagnostics, it is funded right now from smaller radiology budgets instead of extensive surgical ones. This means that IR is not as accessible in the UK as it is in rest of the world, Adam said.

He wants an increase in designated posts for qualified IR professionals.

IR uses imagery taken from X-ray or ultrasounds to steer the doctor to the exact location of the problem.

The blood supply to tumors is then embolised, or cut off, and radiofrequency heat then can "cook" the growth. Arteries can be blocked to prevent internal bleeding and post-partum hemorrhages.

"At the moment there is a genuine postcode lottery when it comes to accessing this service - and it could genuinely save lives," Adam said. "Surgery to stop internal bleeding in someone who has had a major accident is much riskier than using interventional radiology."

Virginia Beckett, a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, agrees with Adman that interventional radiology "was not available as it should be".
"It may not be possible for every hospital - and it's not always practical in an emergency - but there should at the very least be regional centers where such treatment can be obtained - it shouldn't be the struggle to organize which is currently is," Beckett said.

A Department of Health spokesperson stated: "The Department shares the concerns expressed by Professor Adam, has recently held discussions with the Royal College of Radiologists on this issue and is planning further discussions with him and the College."


On The Net:

Royal College of Radiologists

oyal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists