New echocardiogram machine needed in Thimphu hospital

With only two echocardiogram machines at the cardiology department at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the department has been facing a lot of backlog and increased workload.

Echocardiogram which is often referred to as cardiac echo or echo is a sonogram of the heart.  Of the two, one machine is used for adults while the other is used for pediatric patients.

According to the data maintained by the echo department, just a month back, a total of about 300 patients (adults) and about 150 pediatric patients came for echo every month. On a daily basis, excluding about 10 emergency cases every day, the department also receives about 14 adults and 10 pediatric patients.

Talking to Business Bhutan, a cardiologist at JDWNRH, Dr. Mahesh Gurung, said that the department is really in need of a good echo machine. He said that the current echo machines are old and some functions do not work as well.

“It is difficult to give proper diagnosis when the quality and the resolutions are bad. And some functions do not work,” he said. He also added that the echo machine used for pediatric patients have no proper probes. The probes have been either eaten by rats or damaged. “The probes have not been replaced for over three years now and additional echo machines will improve the quality of echo reports and findings,” said Dr. Mahesh Gurung.

He also said that with increasing number of patients, there is an increasing backlog. The data with echo department revealed that the current appointment date for echo has reached June 22. Patients cannot get appointments before the date.

Echo procedure takes about half an hour to one hour depending on the kind of condition of the patient.

Dr. Mahesh Gurung said that an additional echo machine would not only shorten the waiting list or period but also improve the quality of care.

The department also has a portable echo machine, however, it is used for emergency cases and ward patients. The department has four technical staff. One looks after echo for adults, while the other after the pediatric patients. The remaining two staff look after emergencies and advance procedures respectively.

Lucky Wangmo from Thimphu