CT scan machines can be spreaders if protocols not followed

Health workers collecting swab samples in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: file photo

With High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) of the chest becoming a common investigation method for COVID-19 and for suspected cases to rule out lung involvement, doctors said diagnostic centres, CT scan rooms and machines are the latest spreaders.

As many patients turn up for the investigation, there is not enough time for the staff to properly sanitise the machines and the packed room where the scan is conducted. In such a situation, many patients are catching the infection there and those who are already positive end up with an increased viral load, said doctors.

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said: “There should be different time slots for symptomatic and asymptomatic people. It is ideal to have a dedicated machine for COVID-19 patients.” He added that only those who have breathing difficulty, saturation less than 94-93 or an abnormal X-ray need HRCT.

Haleema Yezdani, a general physician who has been tele-triaging and tele-treating through the Emergency Response Team and Project StepOne volunteer groups, said she has seen many SARI patients testing positive after visiting scanning centres.

“A person undergoing the scan is made to inhale and exhale/cough several times during the scanning. If a COVID-19 positive patient does it, the virus gets discharged in the air and also the particles land on the surface of the machine,” she explained.

“Besides, I have also seen several positive patients’ viral load increasing after visiting diagnostics centres for the scan. We doctors should be selective in prescribing HRCT. Patients with mild symptoms and without any respiratory problems should be managed at home and monitored. Unless required, patients should not be sent out of the house for investigations,” she asserted.

Agreeing that CT scan machines can become a source of infection, H.M. Venkatappa, Managing Director of Kanva Diagnostic Services, said such a risk exists if the machines are not sanitised properly after every scan.

“But, all diagnostic centres follow protocols diligently. We change the paper roll on the bed of the machine for every patient and sanitise the machines. It is important that precautions are followed both by patients and staff as a majority who come for HRCT are those who would already had the infection,” he said.

A senior Health Department official said the risk is high in government diagnostic facilities where there is a huge rush of patients.

“It is very difficult to elaborately sanitise the machine after every scan as many patients would be waiting,” he said.

V. Ravi, member of the State’s Technical Advisory Committee, said spread through diagnostic centres and CT machines can be prevented if proper COVID-19 protocols are followed. “If people wear masks they will not just protect themselves but also others,” he added.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 4:44:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/ct-scan-machines-can-be-spreaders-if-protocols-not-followed/article34434612.ece

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