April 2012

Minister for Health Opens Qatar’s First PET-CT Diagnostic Center, 29 April 2012

His Excellency Abdullah Bin Khaled Al Qahtani, the Minister of Public Health and Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Health inaugurated this morning the country’s first operational Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET-CT) and cyclotron facility for the diagnosis and research of cancer and other ailments.

The two storey 2500 square meter PET-CT Center for Diagnosis and Research is one of the most technologically advanced in the region and is located adjacent to the National Center for Cancer Care and Research, (NCCCR). The NCCCR, under the umbrella of HMC, is the sole integrated comprehensive cancer diagnosis and treatment facility within the State of Qatar.

Present at the inaugural ceremony were Hanan Al Kuwari PhD, Managing Director of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and other officials.

Following a tour in the new facility, His Excellency said: “We would like to congratulate HMC on the launch of this diagnostic center which is a great enhancement for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other ailments. I hope that this facility would be a good omen for the advancement of therapeutic services provided to our patients and would save them the agony of travelling abroad in search of diagnosis and treatment. The completion of this outstanding center, from design to commissioning, within a span of one year has been a great achievement by all standards.”

The PET-CT Center, will offer complete patient care ranging from diagnosis and assessment of treatment response for cancer, cardiology and neurology patients. It houses a state of the art combination PET-CT scanner, an imaging system that gives physicians highly defined, three dimensional pictures of both form and function inside a patient's body. In addition, an adjacent Cyclotron facility is equipped to produce radiopharmaceuticals, specialized drugs that can be targeted to specific metabolism and the function of cells.

PET-CT imaging is promising for the diagnosis of a variety of conditions. The images can be used by doctors to plan precise radiation therapies that target cancer cells but avoid healthy cells, and also to monitor response to treatment. It has applications in many fields including cardiology, neurology and psychiatry.

The PET center requires a cyclotron and a radiochemistry laboratory on site to produce the radiopharmaceuticals.

Dr. Hanan said the Center is equipped with the latest technology of Cyclotron and Radiopharmaceutical production equipments to serve HMC and other PET units within the State of Qatar. “This facility will make a substantial impact on patient care, and is a key deliverable of the National Cancer Strategy" said Dr Hanan said. “It demonstrates the commitment of HMC to provide access to cutting edge diagnostic and treatment monitoring technologies for optimal patient care.”

Prior to the opening of the facility patients who required PET-CT imaging had to seek the services overseas. “The opening of this center establishes HMC as the premier center for health care within Qatar and the region, and allows for the development of high level research capability,” said Dr. Noora Al Hammadi, Chairman of the PET-CT Steering Committee and Director of the Radiation Oncology program at the NCCCR “This technology allows unparalleled and simultaneous assessment of both form and function in the patient” noted Dr. Al Hammadi. “The PET scanner shows the physician metabolism and the function of cells, while the CT (computed tomography) shows detailed anatomy. With these combined images, doctors can get more information about a patient's condition, enabling them to make the best choices regarding treatment,” added Dr. Al Hammadi.

HMC Successfully Implements Balloon-Expandable Stent Treatment for Narrowing Aorta, 23 April 2012

Hamad General Hospital (HGH) – a member of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) – has successfully conducted the very first procedure performed in Qatar using balloon-expandable stents for dilation of a narrowed descending aorta in a 14-year-old patient. The success of the operation means that the procedure can now be performed here with the same success and efficiency as in major cardiac centers in the United States and Europe.

The aorta is the largest artery of the heart that supplies the body with oxygenated blood, including vital organs such as the kidneys, liver and intestines. Narrowing or coarctation of the aorta is a congenital condition (meaning it is present at birth) that usually manifests with heart and kidney failure within the first few weeks of life, or with high blood pressure later in life.

“The condition represents about eight percent of congenital heart diseases, and affects more males than females, with a ratio of 2:1,” said Dr Magdi Tofeig, Senior Consultant of Pediatric Cardiology and Congenital Intervention at HMC.

The young patient who underwent the operation was suffering from hypertension, with possibility of coarctation, and had been referred to the Pediatric Cardiology Clinic by Dr Abdullah Al Kaabi, Senior Consultant of Pediatric Nephrology. “Upon examination, the patient was found to have about 70 percent narrowing of his aorta. We decided the best treatment option for him was to use a balloon-expandable stent to treat the narrowing in his aorta,” said Dr Tofeig. The procedure was performed at the Children’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. Dr Tofeig said that the balloon-expandable stent treatment is a new modality that has been proven safe and effective in the US, Europe and Australia. He said that the ability to use balloon-expandable stents for treatment of the narrowed aorta is a real revolution at HGH, where patients were previously treated with surgery or balloon dilatation of the narrowed aorta, a method that is generally less effective and carries the possibility of more complications.

Dr Tofeig explained that the treatment usually involves general anesthesia, monitoring of the electrical activity and blood pressure of the patient, and administration of intravenous fluids. “We succeeded in treating the narrowing using a covered stent about 39 millimeters long. The narrowing has been completely treated, and the blood can now flow normally to the lower part of the body without any obstruction.”

The patient was discharged from the hospital the day after the procedure, with his blood pressure back to normal without the need for further medication. “He is now active and enjoys a perfectly normal life. In his last outpatient review, ultrasound of his heart showed the stent was in good position and there was no significant residual narrowing in his aorta.” Dr Tofeig mentioned that HMC has been very supportive in providing all the necessary equipment and facilities particularly the high-quality covered stents, and that he expects more successful operations to follow.

Dr Hesham Al-Saloos, Senior Consultant of Pediatric Cardiology and Director of the Catheterization Laboratory at HGH, said that coarctation of the aorta is a congenital defect. “Most probably some genetic abnormality, interacting with environmental factors, predisposes the patient to the condition. In rare situations as in a condition called Turner Syndrome, the genetic factor more clearly predisposes the patient to have coarctation of the aorta.”

“This disease can have serious long-term consequences if not treated appropriately,” said Dr Al-Saloos. “Studies have shown that if the patient had no treatment before he was 14 years old, then he would have a higher risk of dying before reaching 50 years old. If treated early, the success of the intervention in preventing recurrence of the narrowing is about 77 percent.”

Dr Al-Saloos explained that the condition can manifest in heart failure and breathing difficulties in babies. This usually means the narrowing is severe. “In older patients, the most common manifestation is high blood pressure, a heart murmur (a noise produced as a result of turbulent blood flow) which can usually be heard with a stethoscope, or weakness and difficulty in feeling lower limb pulses.”

Recent statistics show that treatment of patients with heart disease at HGH has been highly successful, with 100 pediatric cardiac operations performed in 2011. Two-thirds of these operations were open heart surgery procedures. 25 percent of the patients were Qatari. About 3,000 patients were seen in the Pediatric Cardiology Outpatient Clinic, and about 2,000 patients had ultrasound examination of the heart.

200 Healthcare Professionals to Gather at HMC Symposium on Respiratory Disorders, 18 April 2012

About 200 healthcare professionals will gather at a symposium to discuss respiratory disorders to be held on Saturday, 21 April by the Respiratory, Allergy and Sleep Medicine Division of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Medicine.

The one-day Symposium on Respiratory Disorders is aimed at updating the knowledge of healthcare staff from public and private hospitals and clinics as well as primary healthcare centers on how to deal with different common respiratory diseases, and giving updates on the available treatments for these diseases. The event will be held at W Hotel.

The symposium organizers have invited HMC consultants to speak on topics such as unexplained dyspnea, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), primary immunodeficiency, treatment of bronchiectasis, hypoventilation syndromes, tobacco control in Qatar, challenges in the screening and diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and pulmonary function test. There will also be panel discussions as well as a radiology session and an interactive session to discuss cases of respiratory disease.

“This is the first symposium we are holding on respiratory disorders and we have invited all physicians who are interested in the latest updates on the subject. We are planning to hold this event every year and to invite international speakers to our next symposium,” said chief organizer Dr Mona Allangawi, Senior Consultant of Pulmonary Medicine at HMC. She mentioned some of the speakers, including Dr Tasleem Raza, Senior Consultant of Pulmonary Medicine, who will be speaking on unexplained dyspnea, and Dr Hisham Abdul Sattar, Head of Pulmonary Medicine at HMC, who will be speaking on COPD.

About 14,000 patients seek treatment at Hamad General Hospital (a member of HMC) clinics every year for respiratory disorders. Most cases involve bronchial asthma, COPD and allergic rhinitis.

HMC Psychiatry Department Open House Lecture on Psychophysical Disorders and their Physical Symptoms, 16 April 2012

As part of the educational activities offered by the Department of Psychiatry at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), an open lecture entitled: Psychophysical disorders is being delivered on Wednesday, 18 April, at the Psychiatry Department (located next to The Center) from 5 to 7pm.

The lecture delivered by Dr. Abdul Moneim Abdul Hakam, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Hamad Medical Corporation, covers the impact of psychological stress on mental health and the impact of mental health on the human body.

Dr. Abdul Moneim said: “Psychiatric disorders can appear as physical symptoms such as headache, back pain, chest pain or a lack of sensibility or irritable bowel syndrome” adding: “People who suffer from psychological anxiety and depression disorders often visit multiple doctors to get help for physical symptoms that actually originate from psychological causes”.

During his lecture, Dr. Abdul Moneim will explain ways to overcome psychological stress and anxiety and how to practice relaxation exercises; he will also answer questions from the public about this issue.

More than 800 Dentists and Dental Surgeons Gather For the Second Qatar International Dental Association Conference, 10 April 2012

The latest developments in dental health will be discussed at the Second Qatar International Dental Association Conference which is being held in Doha tomorrow in association with the Eighth Gulf Dental Association Conference at the Sharq Village and Spa.

The two day event is being organized by the Qatar Dental Unit, a member of Qatari Physicians Association in cooperation with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), the Supreme Council of Health and the Gulf Dental Association and under the patronage of His Excellency the Minister of Health and Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Health Mr. Abdullah bin Khalid Al Qahtani

Dr. Mohamed Sultan Al-Darwish, Head of Qatar Dental Unit and conference chair said the objective of the conference is to shed the light on the latest techniques in the field of dental surgery, exchange expertise with the participants from all over the world and strengthen cooperation and knowledge.

“We are expecting the participation of more than 800 specialized dentists and dental surgeons from Qatar and abroad including heads of dental associations from GCC and Arab States, Deans of Dental Colleges, heads of dental departments as well as dental experts from Europe and the United States,” said Dr. Al-Darwish

“The conference will review a number of major specialties including: dental implant, orthodontics, pediatrics dental medicine, dental surgery, prosthodontics, whitening and bleaching, root canal therapy and dental gum therapy.”

A specialized a specialized exhibition, which showcasing the latest equipment and devices in the field of dentistry, is running concurrently with the conference. The exhibition will see the participation of 20 regional and international companies.

HMC Successfully Conducts Second Liver Transplant, 07 April 2012

Surgeons from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) last month conducted Qatar’s second liver transplant.

The transplanted liver was donated by a Filipino expatriate to a 59-year-old Pakistani patient who had suffered hepatocirrhosis for more than 10 years. The surgery team included three liver and pancreas transplant consultant surgeons, Dr. Hatem Khalaf, Dr. Mohamed Shoudry and Dr. Henrique Yaktsen, in addition to liver transplant specialist, Dr. Ahmed Khalil and consultant anesthesiologist Mohamad Nagy al-Masri.

Dr. Yousef Al Muslamani, Chairman of HMC Organ Transplant Committee said: “The second successful procedure was real evidence our organ transplantation program, which started in 1986, was making a real difference to lives of people in Qatar.

Dr. Hatem Khalaf said: “The new liver recipient, Mr. Raja Khan was been suffering from severe hepatocirrhosis for more than 10 years and had been receiving treatment at his homeland until he came to Qatar in 2009. When he arrived in Qatar his care was taken over by Dr. Mohamed Shoudry at Outpatient Department clinics of Hamad General Hospital. Dr. Shoudry assessed his case and convinced him that the transplant is feasible.”

“Currently we have 13 patients who are critically in need of liver transplant. We have a successful liver transplant program which currently witnesses considerable progress while we are looking at the performance of more surgeries.” Mr. Khan expressed deep gratitude for His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani the Emir of the State of Qatar in appreciation for the extraordinary care he received at HMC.

“I’ve toured many countries over the world but I’ve never experienced such impressive hospitality and care as I have in Qatar and at HMC,” said Mr. Khan, who works with the Pakistani Embassy in Qatar. “I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the outstanding standard of the healthcare services provided by HMC. I would like, also, to voice my thanks to the State of Qatar for offering expensive surgery and follow up world-class medical treatment, free of cost, for all the people living on the soil of Qatar, regardless of their nationality.”

Rapid Response of HGH Emergency Department Saves Patient from Hemiparalysis, 03 April 2012

The rapid response of Hamad Medical Corporation’s emergency and neurology team successfully saved a patient from hemiparalysis early last month.

While the patient, a 58-year-old Qatari lady was with her daughter at Hamad General Hospital (HGH), she suddenly suffered the symptoms of a stroke, losing speech and movement on the right side of the body before falling unconscious. She was immediately rushed to the Emergency Department where her brain CT scan showed a stroke with hemiparalysis on the right side of the body associated with speech loss.

The attending medical team decided to give her a thrombus dissolvent injection, a medical procedure normally administered in similar cases of stroke, and which has been proven to lead to remarkable improvement in about 94 percent of stroke cases treated by this method.

“Afterwards the patient was sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and began to regain consciousness the next morning. She gradually resumed her speech ability and movement in the right limbs, and fully recovered,” Dr Muayad said. “The patient is currently confined in a non-urgent cases room, and regularly walks to the physiotherapy section to do her rehabilitative exercises. She is now free of all stroke symptoms and will be discharged home within a few days.”

Besides Dr Muayad Kasem, the attending team included Dr Omar Al-Mahin, Dr Hani Al-Dulaimi, Dr Azhar Abdul-Aziz, Dr Zeineb Basim and neurologist Dr Atlantic D’ souza.

Brain strokes occur mainly among people over 50 years old. Its main causes include arteriosclerosis due to high cholesterol level, uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, as well as an unhealthy lifestyle, including an unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise.

Eight stroke cases have been successfully treated this year with thrombolytic drug injections at HGH’s Emergency Department, and all the patients have had remarkable improvement and been discharged from the hospital in good condition. Thrombus dissolvent is used particularly for the treatment of heart strokes, and should only be used for brain stroke for not more than four hours. The treatment should be also be cautiously used for elderly patients, as the latter are likely to be suffering from hypertension and vascular diseases.

Dr Muayad highlighted the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, which may include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion; trouble with speech or comprehension; trouble seeing with one or both eyes; trouble with walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination; and severe headache with no known cause. He emphasized that the success of the treatment depends on early detection and prompt treatment of the stroke.

Hamad Medical Corporation Extends fixed Time Appointment System, 02 April 2012

Following the successful implementation of a new fixed time appointment system for Urology clinics, in April 2012 this system is being extended to cover more clinics in the Hamad General Hospital Outpatient Department (OPD). These clinics include General Medicine, from 1 April, Chest from 15 April and Diabetes from 22 April.

The new system means, once a patient has been referred to see a specialist doctor, their referral will go directly from the referring doctor to the new Patient Contact Center. Following an assessment of their clinical need by a doctor they will be telephoned to arrange a suitable time for their visit to the OPD.

Patients will no longer need to visit the hospital in person to make an appointment. Also, their appointment will be made for a fixed time, so they won’t have to spend as long in the clinic and will have protected time with the specialist. In addition they will be reminded of their appointment by phone and SMS.

Under the new system walk-in patients can no longer be seen and you must have a referral to get an appointment. Patients will be asked to keep to their allocated appointment time. If they can’t keep their appointment they will be encouraged to call +974 4439 5777 so a new appointment can be arranged at a more convenient time. If a patient is more than 15 minutes late for an appointment they will have to be rebooked for another day.

Please see the table below for the roll-out schedule for other OPD clinics.

For more information please call +974 4439 5777 or visit www.hamad.qa/opd

Sub- specialty
Go live date
General Medicine
MOP (now known as General Medicine)
1 April

General Medicine
1 April

A&E Short Stay
1 April

1 April
Gastroenterology (GI)
1 April

Liver Transplant
1 April
1 April

Kidney Transplant
1 April

Kidney Low Clearance
1 April
Infectious Disease
Infectious Disease
1 April
Chest Medicine
15 April

15 April

Sleep Disorders
15 April

15 April

No Smoking
15 April

Cystic Fibrosis
15 April
Endocrine & Diabetes
22 April

22 April

22 April

Insulin Pump
22 April

HMC Leads Major Research in the Treatment of Babies with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, 02 April 2012

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently highlighted a major research study in the treatment of newborn babies with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in its first Therapeutic Hypothermia and Mag Cool Study Training Workshop, which was aimed at training medical staff from recruitment centers in ten countries involved in the study.

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition where newborn babies are deprived of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. This results from birth asphyxia, where the baby’s body is deprived of adequate blood and oxygen supply before or during birth. In Qatar, about 15 babies per year are diagnosed with the condition. Worldwide, it is the second most common cause of death in newborn babies, with approximately 0.9 million babies dying of this condition.

Therapeutic hypothermia, a treatment which has recently become available in developed countries, involves providing a low body temperature to the baby for 72 hours, followed by an eight-hour period of slow rewarming to the normal body temperature. HMC in Qatar is one of the first few centers in the Gulf region that has started the use of therapeutic hypothermia for the treatment of HIE, employing the latest technology. Therapeutic hypothermia has helped to reduce death and disability in babies by about 30 percent according to the most recent research publications.

“There is extensive research going on worldwide about additional therapies, and we at HMC’s Neonatal Unit have started the Mag Cool Study, which will pursue research into a unique combination of hypothermia and magnesium sulfate to protect the brain of newborn babies suffering from HIE,” said Dr Sajjad Rahman, Senior Consultant of Perinatal Medicine at Women's Hospital (HMC) and Lead Principal Investigator of the Mag Cool Study. “Therapeutic hypothermia and magnesium sulfate both protect the brain separately. By combining the two, we are hoping to be able to increase the neuroprotective benefit to the babies.”

The Mag Cool Study project is funded by the Internal Research Grants Program of HMC and will have its recruitment centers in all GCC countries, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, India and Pakistan. “The study will be coordinated by a Research Associate at HMC, Dr Sarrah El Tinay. The workshop had been organized for the purpose of training the delegates from all of the centers. The results of the study will be available early next year, and we hope that this will improve the outcome in babies in terms of reducing both death and disability,” Dr Rahman added.

“This is the first major multinational, multicenter research project in which Qatar is a lead research center. This is a source of pride for HMC and for Qatar, as the country is now in a position of leadership in producing new research among the regional countries, and in changing the outcomes for patients,” said Dr Rahman. “It is also in line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030, which aims to make Qatar a knowledge-based society.”

The research study, which will use a modern, internet-based randomization system, is being conducted in collaboration with Imperial College in London, UK, and Ghazi University in Ankara, Turkey. The two institutions were represented at the workshop by Professor Denis Azzopardi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Imperial College, who gave the delegates an update on hypothermic therapy, and Professor Kivilcim Gucuyener, Professor of Neonatal and Pediatric Neurology at Ghazi University, who gave a presentation on the use of brain monitoring machines during hypothermia treatment.

HMC Nursing Department Honors Sponsors of the GCC Nursing Day, 02 April 2012

The Nursing Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently held a small ceremony at Hamad Medical City to honor the sponsors of the GCC Nursing Day held on 13 March at HMC.

The Nursing Department team led by Dr Nabila Al Meer, Executive Director of Nursing at HMC presented flowers and certificates of appreciation to representatives of the sponsor companies, namely, Nasser bin Khaled Company, Khalid Scientific Company, Aamal Medical Company, and Nasser Trading Company.

“We organized this gathering to recognize and convey our gratitude to the sponsors of the GCC Nursing Day. We are very grateful for their significant contributions towards making Nursing Day a success,” said Dr Al Meer.

The ceremony was followed by a luncheon to celebrate the occasion.