Doctors all over the world have been pressed into duty taking care of patients with respiratory issues during the COVID-19 crisis. But a deadly pandemic doesn’t mean they also get to press pause on other types of care.
While fractures and similar injuries have gone down with far fewer people playing sports and less drivers on the road causing traffic incidents, there’s still work to be done. For Dr. Matthew Solan, an orthopedic surgeon in the UK, that has meant adapting on the fly to make sure foot and ankle patients don’t get lost in the shuffle.
Solan and other doctors have utilized a mobile cone beam CT scanner to keep patients out of the main hospital but still get imaging that can help them determine next steps for those who have undergone operations or diagnose minor fractures. While it’s something they’ve used during a crisis, Dr. Solan said he’d love to see CBCT become commonplace in emergency rooms.
“It’s certainly something I’ll carry forward in my practice after the emergency, and I hope the same will be true of weight-bearing CT, because it makes a big difference to how efficiently we can manage our patients,” Solan said. “There are lots of things we can learn from this experience, so, yes, I’m hopeful we can continue to use the service after COVID.
“I think in an absolutely ideal world, hospital emergency rooms would have cone beam CT as their first investigation. I’m sure the hospital I work in isn’t alone in having a steady stream of missed fractures that pass through the emergency room and are picked up subsequently.”
While weight-bearing CT is perfect for foot and ankle specialists, doctors also are finding wider uses for CBCT scanners beyond the lower extremities.
“The indications for cone beam CT are multiplying. Some of the latest machines scan knees, hips, and the spine, and there are upper-limb scanners as well,” Solan said. said. “We’re going to see cone beam CT really revolutionize orthopedic care. I think all orthopedic surgeons need to think about this and move toward using it as a way of improving care for their patients.”