Ultrasound imaging in the general practitioner's office - a literature review

Alicja Genc, Małgorzata Ryk, Magdalena Suwała, Tatiana Żurakowska, Wojciech Kosiak
Journal of Ultrasonography 2016, 16 (64): 78-86

UNLABELLED: Ultrasound, which is a safe and non-invasive diagnostic modality that uses more and more advanced imaging techniques, has become the first-choice examination in various diseases. It is more and more often used in the general practitioner's office to supplement physical examination and interview.

AIM: The aim of this paper is to review the Polish medical literature pertaining to the usage of ultrasound imaging in general practice as well as to present advantages, disadvantages and utility associated with conducting ultrasound examinations by general practitioners based on selected publications.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The analysis involved 15 articles found in Polish medical literature published in 1994-2013 in 9 medical journals. These publications were obtained using various data bases, such as Polish Medical Bibliography, Google Scholar as well as websites of "Lekarz Rodzinny" and "Ultrasonografia."

RESULTS: Of 15 available publications, 5 papers present the usage of ultrasound imaging by a primary care physician for general purposes, 4 discuss the usage of abdominal scans, 3 - imaging of the neck and lymph nodes, 1 - lungs, and 2 discuss its usage for specific disease entities. In over 70% of the papers, the financial aspect associated with the usage of this modality in general practice is mentioned. More than a half of the publications draw attention to the possibility of using point-of-care ultrasound examinations. Advantages of ultrasonography most often mentioned by the authors include: good effects of screening, safety, short duration and low cost. The authors of eight publications also indicate disadvantages associated with ultrasound imaging used by a general practitioner.

CONCLUSIONS: In the Polish literature, there are relatively few papers on the role of ultrasonography in the office of a primary care physician. This modality is more and more often becoming a tool that helps primary care physicians to establish diagnoses, accelerates the initiation of treatment and directs the further diagnostic process.

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