Abdominal ultrasound referred by the Emergency department - can sonographer findings help guide timely patient management?

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Objective: To compare sonographer findings with radiologists? reports regarding the level of agreement, ability to answer the clinical question, and the use of hedging (descriptive words that do not commit to a definitive diagnosis) in abdominal ultrasound cases referred by the Emergency department. Other criteria compared included caveats of image quality and requests for further investigations. Methods: Abdominal ultrasound examinations referred by the Emergency department at a large regional tertiary hospital were retrospectively reviewed and sonographer findings compared with radiologists? reports. A consultant Intensivist scored all examinations into one of four categories according to the level of diagnostic agreement between the sonographer and associated radiologists. The same rater also identified where hedging terminology was used, whether the clinical question posed was answered and when further requests for investigations (including imaging) were made. The proportion of scores between sonographers and radiologists for each outcome variable were analysed using Fisher Exact tests. Results: Eighty-six cases were identified for this study. Of those, 73 (84.9 ) were in complete agreement. In 12 cases (14.0 ) a minor discrepancy was reported and only one case (1.1 ) was scored as moderately discrepant between sonographers findings and radiologists? reports. There were no significant differences in the use of hedging, ability to answer the clinical question, requests for further investigations or interpretation of image quality. Conclusion: Sonographer findings for cases of abdominal ultrasound referred by the Emergency department have a high level of agreement with radiologists? reports and could form the basis for acute patient care when radiologists? reports are unavailable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4 - 7
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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