Musculoskeletal ultrasound training in rheumatology: the Belfast experience

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Jan;45(1):102-5. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kei162. Epub 2005 Nov 1.


Objectives: Despite the increasing use of musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) as a clinical tool in rheumatology, there is no consensus yet regarding the standards required to achieve a basic level of competence in the use of this imaging technique. A number of sonographers worldwide are developing curricula and standardizing teaching methods in order to improve training in MSUS for rheumatologists. In the meantime, clinicians are devising informal means of training in order to acquire these new skills. Here we describe the informal team approach to MSUS training adopted by a group of rheumatologists from the Regional Rheumatology Centre in Belfast, UK.

Methods: Over a 5-yr period, eight rheumatologists from Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast used a variety of means to learn the basic skills of MSUS.

Results: Seven of the team underwent a formal assessment of their competency in a practical examination devised by an experienced sonographer. All were judged to have attained a basic competency in MSU.

Conclusions: This Belfast experience shows what can be achieved despite the absence of formal MSUS training. Nevertheless, the development of recognized training programmes and international standards of competency are important goals on the way to achieving more widespread acceptance of MSUS as a useful tool in everyday clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Northern Ireland
  • Rheumatology / education*
  • Teaching / methods
  • Ultrasonics*
  • Ultrasonography