Ultrasound J. 2023 Mar 8;15(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s13089-023-00308-7.
BACKGROUND: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) plays a prominent role in the timely recognition and management of multiple medical, surgical, and obstetric conditions. A POCUS training program for primary healthcare providers in rural Kenya was developed in 2013. A significant challenge to this program is the acquisition of reasonably priced ultrasound machines with adequate image quality and the ability to transmit images for remote review. The goal of this study is to compare the utility of a smartphone-connected, hand-held ultrasound with a traditional ultrasound device for image acquisition and interpretation by trained healthcare providers in Kenya.
METHODS: This study took place during a routine re-training and testing session for healthcare providers who had already received POCUS training. The testing session involved a locally validated Observed Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) that assessed trainees’ skills in performing the Extended Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (E-FAST) and focused obstetric exams. Each trainee performed the OSCE twice, once using a smartphone-connected hand-held ultrasound and once using their notebook ultrasound model.
RESULTS: Five trainees obtained a total of 120 images and were scored on image quality and interpretation. Overall E-FAST imaging quality scores were significantly higher for the notebook ultrasound compared to the hand-held ultrasound but there was no significant difference in image interpretation. Overall focused obstetric image quality and image interpretation scores were the same for both ultrasound systems. When separated into individual E-FAST and focused obstetric views, there were no statistically significant differences in the image quality or image interpretation scores between the two ultrasound systems. Images obtained using the hand-held ultrasound were uploaded to the associated cloud storage using a local 3G-cell phone network. Upload times were 2-3 min.
CONCLUSION: Among POCUS trainees in rural Kenya, the hand-held ultrasound was found to be non-inferior to the traditional notebook ultrasound for focused obstetric image quality, focused obstetric image interpretation, and E-FAST image interpretation. However, hand-held ultrasound use was found to be inferior for E-FAST image quality. These differences were not observed when evaluating each E-FAST and focused obstetric views separately. The hand-held ultrasound allowed for rapid image transmission for remote review.