AIUM: Training, assessment crucial in obstetric ultrasound

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Photo courtesy of UCLA.

Ultrasound imaging is an integral diagnostic tool for obstetricians and gynecologists—it’s portable, cost-efficient and localized—with women receiving an average of 4.5 examinations per pregnancy. But experts in the field believe training programs are insufficient for physicians.

In response, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) developed a task force to develop a standardized consensus-based curriculum and competency assessment tools for OB-GYN ultrasounds, with the aim they would be used in residency programs.

The task force released recommendations for ultrasound curriculum and assessment tools online Jan. 3 in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, and Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

“Improving the quality of ultrasound examinations will have a substantial impact on patient care and healthcare costs,” said Beryl R. Benacerraf, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Furthermore, standardizing the approach to ultrasound training in residency programs and providing tools to measure competency in a comprehensive way is a novel approach that will ensure training and thus impact long term patient care. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a multi-society curriculum and competency assessment tools have been created for residency training in clinical imaging.”

The curriculum was developed in a level-based framework, focusing on essential topics of basic ultrasound principles, details about equipment and examination throughout pregnancy.

Level 1

  • Basic characteristics of ultrasound equipment (knobology)
  • Aspects of the ultrasound examination
  • Ultrasound in the first trimester
  • Ultrasound in the second and third trimesters
  • Ultrasound evaluation of twin gestations
  • Placental abnormalities
  • Amniotic fluid assessment
  • Ultrasound examination of nonpregnant uterus
  • Ultrasound evaluation of adnexa

Level 2

  • Ultrasound in the first trimester
  • Ultrasound evaluation of twin gestations
  • Placental abnormalities
  • Amniotic fluid assessment
  • Cervix
  • Abnormalities of the nonpregnant uterus
  • Ultrasound evaluation of adnexa

Level 3

  • Ultrasound in the second and third trimesters
  • Ultrasound evaluation of twin gestations
  • Ultrasound examination of the nonpregnant uterus
  • Evaluation of the adnexa

Level 4

  • Ultrasound in the second and third trimesters
  • Ultrasound evaluation of twin gestations

The competency assessment includes evaluation of ultrasound images, movie clips, real-time scanning or a combination of these methods.

“Incorporating this training curriculum and these competency assessment tools should promote consistency in training and competency assessment, and thus enhance the performance and diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound examination in obstetrics and gynecology,” wrote the task force.