Performing ultrasound in rural clinics in Loc Tri and Vinh Phu


Today we set off early to visit two rural hospitals in the countryside of Hue. We were accompanied by some Cal undergraduate students who also helped out at the hospitals as a part of the Volunteers for Medical Outreach (VMO) program. After an hour of dirt roads, we reached our first stop; the Health Care Station of Loc Tri District (Tram Y Te Xa Loc Tri). It was in a very small town sparse with buildings, surrounded by beautiful green fields and hills. When we arrived, there were already around 60 patients, mostly elderly, awaiting medical care. After meeting the 4 doctors who were in charge of seeing the patients, they asked us to set up our machines and ultrasound all of the patients. They asked us to do all our scans on each patient but we quickly realized that the pace was too slow, so we switched to a focused ultrasound scan after briefly interviewing each patient for his/her chief complaint. Meanwhile, UC Berkeley’s VMO team assisted with taking in patients, measuring blood pressures, and distributing medication in the pharmacy clinic. The mobile clinics, supplies and medications were all funded by donations collected throughout the school year.

At first, we were hesitant to ultrasound patients since we were relatively inexperienced in regards to pathology in images, but our previous experience shadowing ultrasound doctors in Hospital 108 actually served us quite well. We were able to identify kidney stones, thyroid cysts, mitral regurgitation, ventricular hypertrophy, enlarged kidneys and masses in the thyroid and liver. As we saw more patients, we became more and more proficient as scans became much faster and easier. After receiving their scan, the patients were sent to see their respective doctors. After a few hours, we had finally finished scanning all 60 patients.

Our next stop was another small rural hospital which dedicated the day to administering Hepatitis vaccines to children, all around the age of 6. The Cal students with VMO conducted dental care lessons for the children after they had received their vaccinations. Nancy conducted one of the lessons on her own, and afterwards, Anh joined her and the Cal students as they applied fluoride gel onto the children’s teeth.

After getting home, we all watched MS2 ultrasound videos and studied as many scans with pathology as we could in preparation for our next and last clinic visit the next day.

The following day, we woke up early again to make our way to the last rural clinic. Although the waiting room was just as crowded as the last clinic, this clinic’s population was much more varied in terms of age, with children, middle aged adults and elderly patients. Our extra studying the night before paid off, as we were able to distinguish kidney cysts from hydronephrosis in a female patient. Again, we saw lots of the same pathology as we did in the previous day, including leaky heart valves, kidney cysts, and masses in the liver. We learned that the doctors working at this clinic were not very proficient with the ultrasound, so they greatly appreciated us being there to help. Although many patients showed up to the clinic, we ended up scanning only patients that were referred to us by the doctors, which amounted to about 30-40 patients scanned.

Leave a Reply