The feasibility of telemedicine for the training and supervision of general practitioners performing ultrasound examinations of patients with urinary tract symptoms

J Telemed Telecare. 2004;10(3):180-2. doi: 10.1258/135763304323070850.


Ultrasound examinations were carried out by a general practitioner on patients who presented with lower urinary tract symptoms. To assist in the interpretation of ultrasound anatomy, still images were captured during the ultrasound examination and transmitted to a university expert. In total 15 telemedicine sessions were conducted, using PC-based videoconferencing equipment connected by ISDN at 128 kbit/s. Fifteen patients were randomly selected and both the transmitted and hard-copy images (printed on thermal paper) were graded for technical quality. Data were missing for 13 of the possible 105 paired comparisons, as some images could not be evaluated. Overall agreement between the technical quality scores for the transmitted and hard-copy images was poor (weighted kappa=0.04). The 105 transmitted images were also rated for their diagnostic quality: 90% were classified as diagnostic and 10% were judged to be non-diagnostic. The results show the feasibility of tele-ultrasound in primary care. The general practitioner concerned benefited from regular ultrasound training and supervision, and achieved a satisfactory level of clinical competency in scanning the prostate, bladder and kidneys.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • England
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Ultrasonography