Quantifying the burden of trauma imaging on the CT scan service at a major trauma centre in South Africa
Background: Imaging is an integral part of trauma management and the huge burden of trauma in South Africa places substantial pressures on radiology resources. This study aims to provide a holistic overview of the burden of trauma imaging and the cost of trauma to a busy CT scanning facility at a tertiary hospital in South Africa.
Results: Over the four-year study period, 1572 patients required a CT scan following blunt torso trauma (mean age: 30 years, 81% males). Of the 1572 patients, 625 had a chest radiograph (40%), 383 a cervical spine X-ray (24%), 347 a pelvic X-ray (22%), 292 a skull X-ray (18%), 193 a limb X-ray (12%), 133 an abdominal radiograph (8%), and 86 a FAST scan (5%). The 1572 CT included: 967 head, 568 neck, 65 chest, 241 abdominal, 228 pelvic, 12 upper limb, 38 lower limb and 394 had full body (Pan) CT scan. The mean total cost of the CT scanning for blunt poly-trauma is ZAR 12 000. The total cost of CT scanning for blunt poly-trauma is 0.92% of the total hospital expenditure. Roughly 7.8% of the total hours worked by the CT scanner over the time period under review was dedicated to blu nt poly-trauma.
Conclusion: Blunt poly-trauma is a preventable disease, which has a major financial impact on the healthcare system in general. This study has documented the tremendous burden it places on an already stretched CT scanning service.