The review looks at the merits of gynaecologists and radiology staff performing ultrasound examinations. It concludes that sonographers, radiologists and gynaecologists all need to work together to provide a more efficient and high quality service.
Ultrasound is a safe, diagnostic imaging tool, but depends highly on the operator and is best interpreted live during the examination. Over the past ten years there has been a surge of interest in ultrasound among gynaecologists, however, previously they were often self-trained in ultrasound but this is no longer acceptable, says the review.
Gynaecologists who want to learn more about how to scan can now take the new RCOG ultrasound training modules enabling trainees to maximise their skills outside of Advanced Training Skills Modules.
The review states that gynaecologists with this extra training could take up the work from overburdened radiology departments. However the review argues that if ultrasound services are relocated to gynaecological clinics and wards, there may be a loss of the systematic approach seen in radiology departments, covering patient safety, maintenance of equipment, reporting and archiving.
By contrast, many gynaecologists do not have the technology to back-up their equipment and ultrasound record keeping can be variable, says the review.
A more effective approach would be for clinical units to combine the skills and resources within multidisciplinary teams. This may blur the roles of different practitioners but ensure that teams work together to deliver a combined quality service that relies on sonographers, radiologists and gynaecologists, says the review.
To achieve this, sonographers should work with both clinical and radiology teams with access to the appropriate resources and support; radiology practitioners and trainees may need to move out of their departments and into gynaecology ‘one-stop’ clinics; and gynaecologists engage in multidisciplinary meetings that review patient care and foster continuing support of their radiology colleagues, concludes the review.
Mark Roberts, Consultant Gynaecologist Women’s Services, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne and co-author of the review said:
“Multidisciplinary working would lead to a more efficient way of working.
“Radiology departments excel in storing images and reporting and support from radiologists is vital in diagnosing certain conditions. It is vital that all operators in gynaecological ultrasound should be appropriately trained, adequately resourced and should work within their level of competence.”
TOG’s Editor –in-Chief, Jason Waugh said:
“As gynaecologists increasingly use ultrasound it is important that they work with their radiology colleagues to ensure that patients receive the best care. The RCOG training modules provide an excellent resource for learning more about this vital service.”
For more information please contact Naomi Weston on 020 7772 6357 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG) is published quarterly and is the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) medical journal for continuing professional development. TOG is an editorially independent, peer reviewed journal aimed at providing health professions with updated information about scientific, medical and clinical developments in the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology.
Roberts M, Hughes T. Who should perform the ultrasound examinations in gynaecology? The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 2012;14:237–42.