U.S. Radiologists Providing Assistance to Japan

March 31, 2011

As the devastation following the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan continue to unfold, radiologists in the U.S. are lending their expertise and assistance.

As the devastation following the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan continue to unfold, radiologists in the U.S. are lending their expertise and assistance.

The American College of Radiology has stepped in to provide experts to address concerns about radiation safety at home and abroad, and so far many of the outreach efforts have revolved around education.

“We availed some of our folks who are more keenly involved in those efforts to the press to address ongoing issues that came up, both in the U.S. and Japan,” said Brad Short, ACR’s senior director of member services and staff person for the ACR Foundation International Outreach Program. “Our first action was to try to allay any concerns that were being addressed dealing with radiation issues.”

The ACR connected with the Japanese College of Radiology to help find volunteers to provide education, as well as remote reading. At least three doctors from the U.S. are providing assistance, and other countries have also been helping, including Singapore, Italy, India, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Belgium has provided the largest group of volunteers with more than 300 radiologists, according to JCR officials.

The JCR’s “concern immediately was in these villages,” Short said. “They will continue to have radiological needs in those areas. They wanted us to set up a network for consultation purposes, via telemedicine, as well.”

Future assistance could involve helping rebuild medical facilities in Japan, which ACR’s outreach program does in other countries. Short noted that Japan’s needs, however, will likely be different than those in Haiti, where Short was headed this week to help oversee training and equipment needs at a new children’s hospital in Port-Au-Prince.

“As JCR learns needs and as we can help we will provide whatever assistance we can,” Short said. “At this point it’s more to let them know we are supportive, we have resources they could call on and be at the ready, if and when that call should come.”

In an e-mail response to Short, provided to Diagnostic Imaging, JCR President Kimiyoshi Mizunuma, MD, explained that they don’t know exactly what their needs are at this time. “We are trying to find this out slowly and quietly. We consider our operation being a long-going project and we do not intend to push those who are already very busy at this acute phase of event,” he wrote.

“What we would like to do is to humbly advertise the fact that we are here to help, and if there is
anyone who responds, then they will get the service of remote reading,” he continued.

Kei Yamada, MD, a radiologist in Kyoto and spokesman for the JCR, said in an e-mail that the JCR’s plan is to provide remote reading of radiological exams through the volunteers. “During the process, I am sure that someone has to be on the ground for setting up the basic system. But, this is only possible after the recovery of two things: #1 electricity and #2 Internet access.”

The JCR does need mobile equipment, such as mobile CT units, Yamada said, adding, “It would be wonderful if there is someone who can provide these.”

For information on how to help, see the ACR’s Web site and the JCR’s Web site.