Radiological Health Program

Diagnostic medical sonogramUltrasound exam of the heart, also known as echocardiography, is performed to assess heart size, structural abnormalities or congenital anomalies. Sonography enables the physician to observe heart motion and blood flow in real time. Color and Spectral Doppler sonography are specific techniques that are used in echocardiography to evaluate the direction and velocity of blood flow throughout the heart chambers, valves, inflow and outflow vessels.

The parasitic disease Chagas is endemic in 21 countries in the Americas, with 28,000 new cases each year. Left untreated the disease can lead to irreversible damage to multiple organ systems, including the heart.

The effects of chronic Chagas disease on the heart include cardiomyopathy, abnormal heart rhythms, and aneurysms within the heart apex. Echocardiography could be utilized to identify and monitor progression of chronic Chagas disease.

Diagnostic medical sonogramUltrasound can be used to evaluate the fetal brain of infants from newborn to approximately six months of age, or until there is closure of the anterior fontanelle.

Ultrasound can identify various abnormalities of the infant brain including intracranial hemorrhage, ventriculomegaly, congenital brain anomalies, calcifications associated with intrauterine infections such as Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Syphilis, and Zika.

Neurosonography is the preferred imaging modality of choice for infants.  High resolution brain images can be obtained with sonography thereby eliminating radiation exposure associated with CT scan.  Neonatal head sonography can be performed at the bedside, eliminating the need of bringing a critically ill infant to the Radiology department.  Additionally sedation of the infant is not required to obtain diagnostic ultrasound images.

Additional Resources

Pregnancy management in the context of Zika virus infection. (Interim guidance updat. 13 May 2016, WHO/ZIKV/MOC/16.2 Rev.1)

Screening, assessment and management of neonates and infants with complications associated with Zika virus exposure in utero. (Rapid Advice Guideline. 30 August 2016. WHO/ZIKAV/MOC/16.3/Rev3)

Diagnostic medical sonogramDiagnostic medical sonograms, also referred to as an ultrasound exam, has experienced exceptional growth over the last 30 years.  This growth can be attributed to unique characteristics of ultrasound imaging that are clear benefits over other imaging modalities in diagnosing and  monitoring the progression of disease.  Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a sophisticated imaging modality that utilizeshigh frequency sound waves, not ionizing radiation,  to evaluate structures within the body.  Unlike Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) where static cross sectional images are obtained for interpretation; sonography exams are dynamic, meaning that internal structures can be observed in motion.  This is especially important when evaluating the heart for contractibility and valve function or determining viability of a fetus during an obstetric sonogram by observing motion.

Sonography equipment comes in many different sizes, from small hand held devices to full size stand alone units, regardless of the size of the ultrasound unit, all the equipment is portable.  Portability of equipment  gives ultrasound the ability to perform bedside exams on critically ill patients, assist physicians in the operating room (OR), labor and delivery (L&D), and emergency department (ED).  Ultrasound exams can be performed virtually anywhere there is a need; because there is no ionizing radiation utilized to obtain diagnostic images, the exam room does not need to modified with lead lined walls.  Couple this fact with the much lower cost of an ultrasound unit compared to a CT or MRI unit, leads to another benefit of sonography: the overall cost to perform sonographic exams is much lower than for CT or MRI exams. 

Ultrasound imaging can be used to assess abdominal and pelvic organs in both the adult and pediatric patient, musculoskeletal structures, managing obstetric care and monitoring fetal well being, and superficial structures such breast, thyroid, and eye.

This poster will highlight how diagnostic medical sonography can be utilized to evaluate and monitor patients with selected neglected tropical diseases (NTD) and  non communicable diseases (NCD).

Additional Resources

Radiology is a very important tool in medicine and can address abnormalities and conditions in maternal and infant's health, respiratory diseases, Noncommunicable disease (NCD), trauma and many other diseases.  Radiology has many technologies or modalities such as radiography, sonography, mammography, computed Tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  Highlighted below are various neglected tropical and non-communicable diseases that can be identified with ultrasound. 


The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in collaboration with regional experts and in consultation with the countries, developed a manual on "Mammography Services Quality Assurance: Baseline Standards for Latin America and the Caribbean". The aim of this new publication, published now in English, is to provide baseline QA standards to increase access to quality mammography services, while ensuring patient and public safety.