Tuesday 9 January 2024


A NEW state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) scan has been installed at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, a huge boost to health service delivery for the southern region as it will enhance access to accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Before its installation, members of the public were paying at least US$600 at private institutions as the service was not accessible in public hospitals.

A similar scan is stationed at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare to service the northern region.

MRI is a non-invasive medical imaging test that produces detailed images of almost every internal structure in the human body, including the organs, bones, muscles, and blood vessels.

MRI scanners create images of the body using a large magnet and radio waves and can assist TB patients as well as pick up stroke, among other benefits.

It comes with several advantages compared to CT scans as it is less harmful to patients and provides clearer depictions, which lead to the correct diagnosis.

Mpilo chief medical officer Dr Narcisius Dzvanga said an application specialist for MR Philips Healthcare, Mr Piotr Ciszek, is in the city conducting test runs at Mpilo this week as part of training before the machine is fully handed over.

He said Mpilo radiographers have been trained on the safety of the machine already and staff members in need of MRI scans will be accessing them for free this week as part of test runs.

“As discussed in December the installation of the MRI machine is now complete, the engineer and the trainer are on the ground, we got a trainer from Poland who was brought in by the company as that is part of the installation process,” said Dr Dzvanga.

“They are available for a whole week, and yesterday we went through safety procedures regarding the MRI and it was a two-hour session attended by staffers from the X-ray department.

“From today until Friday, we will be doing trial runs of the machines on various parts of the body to see how clear the pictures are and whether any faults can be identified before the complete handover.

“As of today, they have started doing the scans of the brain; I think we have five patients for the day.”

Dr Dzvanga said the installation of the MRI brings joy to specialists who for a long time have had to administer treatment without the scans due to pricing.

“So, the consultants are excited about this as they have always struggled to have these scans done in private for their patients so that they can effectively give the ideal treatment,” he said.

“Our staff members are also excited some of them tried to get the scan in town and could not afford so this is an opportunity for them to do it. While we are doing the trial runs it’s free of charge, so if there are any of our staff members awaiting MRI scan, they can come through, they have an opportunity as we try the machine,” said Dr Dzvanga.

“Downstream it’s going to be a huge difference to clinical care we will have more precise diagnosis and so forth and more precise interventions. We have not yet done the costs; we stand guided by the parent ministry and we will compare ourselves with Parirenyatwa Hospital as well because they have a similar machine and then we see what is affordable for the southern region.”

Mpilo specialist radiologist, Dr Davison Dzamatira, said the training was going well and expressed optimism that the state-of-the-art MRI scan would improve healthcare services at the public hospital.

“We have greater accuracy in pinpointing where the anomalies are, it differs from a CT scan as it doesn’t use ionized radiation so it’s less harmful to the patients, and also gives a more accurate depiction of the soft tissue,” he said.

“With CT you get good depiction of bone soft tissues but there are certain abnormalities where MRI is superior.” 

Dr Dzamatira said stroke and TB patients stand to benefit from the scan as well.

“One is able to pick up stroke with an MRI than a CT scan and then patients that have TB, which can affect any organ of the body can get it detected quickly in the brain or spine.

“This MRI will help surgeons when they plan for their surgeries as they will have more accurate information to plan for their interventions.

“With time we hope to include other sub-specialties applications that will include cardiac assessment.”

Mpilo a 1 000-bed central hospital,  is the second biggest in Zimbabwe and it services the southern region, which includes Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and South provinces. Chronicle


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