Public Release:  Radiologists, primary users of non-cardiac ultrasound

American College of Radiology

Although non-radiologist physicians have contributed to the widespread use of point-of-care (POC) ultrasound, radiologists remain the primary users, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology. POC ultrasound is defined as an ultrasound performed (and interpreted) by the clinician at the bedside.

A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine by Moore and Copel indicated that miniaturization and a drop in costs have facilitated the growth of non-cardiac POC ultrasound by clinicians and that the concept of an "ultrasound stethoscope" is rapidly moving from the theoretical to a reality.

"The commentary by Moore and Copel raises the question of how widespread the use of non-cardiac ultrasound has become among non-radiologist physicians and how quickly such use is growing with the advent of hand-carried ultrasound devices. We used a nationwide database to investigate these questions," said David C. Levin, MD, lead author of the study.

To determine the rate of utilization of non-cardiac ultrasound by radiologists and other specialists, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University looked at Medicare Part B databases for 2004 to 2009. Between 2004 and 2009, there was a 21 percent increase in the overall utilization rate of non-cardiac ultrasound. POC ultrasound by non-radiologists amounted to 41 percent of all studies done in 2009, while radiologists performed 55 percent. Multiple non-radiologic specialties are involved, but radiologists' involvement is far higher than any other single specialty.

"The role of radiologists in non-cardiac ultrasound remains quite strong; however progressive miniaturization of ultrasound equipment may change that. As a result, utilization trends will require further watching and additional research in the coming years," said Levin.


For more information about JACR, visit

To receive an electronic copy of an article appearing in the JACR, or to set up an interview with a JACR author, please contact Heather Curry at 703-390-9822 or

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.