Alexandra Pflum, MD
Alexandra Pflum, MD
Radiology · Pittsburgh, PA

Cape Verde Ultrasound Education

April 18th
Praia, Cabo Verde

Project Description

I am interested in joining a group of radiologists traveling to Praia, Cape Verde to participate in an initiative to teach ultrasounds skills. Local physicians have expressed desire to learn ultrasound techniques, with a specific interest in ultrasound guided biopsy, including breast biopsy. Lectures on ultrasound, skills demonstrations and workshops will be given to approximately thirty local physicians. With this trip, Cape Verde doctors will gain the necessary skills to begin incorporating ultrasound into their daily practice and improve care for their patients. Ultrasound is an incredibly accessible form of diagnostic imaging. The equipment is portable, relatively inexpensive (as compared to other radiology modalities) and can be used as a point of care resource. Radiology has long been underutilized in resource poor countries, with initiatives such as these, radiology access is expanding which improves diagnostic capabilities and ultimately enhances patient care.

Population Served

The population being served with this initiative is ultimately the community members of Praia, Cape Verde. By teaching Cape Verdian physicians ultrasound techniques and ultrasound biopsy, their patients will benefit by having a reliable form of diagnostic imaging and safer biopsy. By teaching physicians these skills, they can then go on to disseminate the information to their colleagues and students, and progress the field of radiology for Cape Verde.

Expected Impact

This initiative will have a great deal of personal impact. I am interested in being the best physician I can be for my patients. Part of that means expanding my horizons and learning from not just doctors in my country but from other healthcare professionals world wide. Being exposed to medicine and radiology on a global basis makes me a more compassionate physician. Additionally, I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to become a physician, I see it as my personal mission to not give back to others when I have the ability to do so. As a resident radiologist, I see teaching others the skills I’ve learned as paramount to my own education and in direct alignment with my personal mission.
In addition to the personal impact this initiative will have for me, the ultimate goal in offering ultrasound education to have a lasting impact for Cape Verde physicians and the Cape Verde community. We will do this by providing ultrasound machines and teaching ultrasound skills to a large number of physicians. The goal is for the skills taught to then be teachable to other healthcare professionals and students. In this way, our mission will have a sustainable, lasting impact for the people of Cape Verde.

Trip Photos & Recap

The citizens of the main island of Santiago in Cape Verde are the main population who are most impacted by our work. To be more specific, women with breast lesions. The primary focus of our trip was to teach ultrasound and ultrasound guided biopsy. After a full day of lectures teaching ultrasound and how to identify benign and malignant lesions, a practical workshop was hosted. Prior to the ultrasound guided biopsy workshop, patients with breast lesions were frequently taken to surgery for excision as a means of diagnosis. This protocol can result in unnecessary risk for patients, often times for benign lesions. By teaching ultrasound guided biopsy, a diagnosis can be reached in a minimally invasive manner, which is much safer for patients. Additionally, the biopsy techniques that were taught can also be adapted for renal and liver lesions, which impacts an even larger population of patients. After our workshops, biopsy on real patients with breast lesions was taught with supervisor from our breast radiologists to ensure a practical understanding. I am confident that the patients with breast lesions in Cape Verde will be much better served by the local physicians adopting this method of diagnosis.