Large variation in access to ultrasound in Europe


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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A new study has identified significant variation in primary care physicians’ (PCPs) access to in-house ultrasonography across Europe. The finding comes at a time when research suggests that point-of-care ultrasonography performed by PCPs may lead to improved diagnostic accuracy.

As part of the study, researchers examined data on 2,086 primary care doctors from 20 European countries from the Örenäs survey, to explore the differences in abdominal or pelvic diagnostic ultrasound availability.

The study found the median (minimum-maximum) percentage of PCPs across Europe with access to in-house abdominal ultrasonography was 15.3 per cent, with large variations between countries (0.0%-98.1%). A total of 12.1 per cent (0.0%-30.8%) had access to in-house pelvic ultrasonography.

There were no statistically significant associations between the PCP characteristics and in-house access to abdominal or pelvic ultrasonography; however, larger practices were significantly associated with higher levels of in-house ultrasonography, as was having an in-house colleague specialised in a medical field which traditionally uses ultrasonography. 

Presenting the findings in the BMJ Open, the authors said, as evidence continues to support point-of-care ultrasonography as a front-line test, implementation strategies for the increased availability of the technology in primary care are needed.