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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 48-54

Systemic complications and imaging challenges of sickle cell disease in sub-saharan Africa

1 Department of Radiology, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
3 Department of Radiology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Grace B Inah
Department of Radiology, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jrmt.jrmt_12_21

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With improved life expectancy of people living with sickle cell disease (SCD) as a result of modern interventions, chronic problems such as pulmonary, abdominal, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and obstetric challenges are more often encountered. The need for radiological examination is, therefore, growing for the early diagnosis of these complications and improved prognosis. The emphasis, therefore, should be toward safer diagnostic options such as ultrasonography, transcranial Doppler ultrasound, and echocardiography as repeated radiation is counterproductive. This review is aimed at highlighting the imaging challenges encountered in the management of SCD in sub-Saharan Africa and possible ways of mitigating them. We reviewed available electronic literature in the last 20 years, especially articles from Google Scholar and PubMed with search keywords of imaging challenges, sickle cell disease, and sub-Saharan Africa. The challenges identified in this review include lack of institutional infrastructure, poor equipment availability, weak health and imaging personnel capacity, treatment affordability, service accessibility, and poor research and training facilities. With the increasing longevity of SCD individuals in sub-Saharan Africa, imaging requirements are rising. Repeated exposure to radiation should be minimized as much as possible. Engagement of the private sector through public-private partnership in equipping health institutions with radiological equipment, as well as training of appropriate personnel for their deployment is strongly recommended to enhance care, prevent complications, and improve outcomes for SCD in sub-Saharan Africa.

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