Objective: To evaluate the training and practice of specialist practitioners in musculoskeletal ultrasonography (MUS) with the aim of developing an expert-derived consensus of educational standards for rheumatologists performing MUS.
Methods: A panel of worldwide experts in MUS was identified by literature review, consultation with members of training committees, and peer recommendation. Using a postal questionnaire, information was obtained about personal experience, current practice, training regimen, and participation in competency assessment.
Results: International experts in MUS were identified (57 in total: 37 radiologists, 20 rheumatologists). Response rate was 70%. Radiologists had been performing MUS for longer than rheumatologists. Both rheumatologists and radiologists conducted the same number of MUS sessions per week, although radiologists examined more patients. More radiologists performed MUS for muscle and ligament injury, nerve lesions, soft tissue masses, and of the groin (P <0.01). The number of training hours was similar. Approaches to training varied, although attending a training course and scanning with an expert was more common among rheumatologists (P <0.001). More than two-thirds of the group had not undergone any form of competency assessment.
Conclusion: This study highlights differences in training and practice between individual expert ultrasonographers and between specialty backgrounds. In particular, there appears to be no formal training regimen and competency assessment is uncommon. The establishment of a core set of internationally applicable educational standards for MUS training for rheumatologists is required.