Objectives: To document the practice and training opportunities of US-guided arthrocentesis and joint injection (UGAJ) among rheumatologists in the member countries of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).
Methods: An English-language questionnaire, containing questions on demographics, clinical and practical aspects of UGAJ, training options in UGAJ for rheumatologists, UGAJ education in the rheumatology training curriculum and other structured education programmes in UGAJ was sent to three different groups: (i) all national rheumatology societies of EULAR; (ii) all national societies of the European Federation of Societies for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology (EFSUMB); and (iii) 22 senior rheumatologists involved in EULAR musculoskeletal US training from 14 European countries, who were also asked to circulate the questionnaire among relevant colleagues.
Results: Thirty-three (75%) of 44 countries responded to the questionnaire (61.3% of national rheumatology societies, 25% of the national US societies and 100% of expert ultrasonographers). In the majority of countries (85%) <10% of rheumatologists routinely perform UGAJ in clinical practice, while the remaining countries (15%) reported a rate of 10-50%. The percentage of rheumatologists receiving training in UGAJ was <10% in the majority (72.7%) of countries.
Conclusion: The study highlights the relatively low prevalence of UGAJ as compared with the high (>80%) rate of rheumatologists performing conventional joint injection in most of the surveyed countries. The reported variations in practice and the lack of available structured training programmes for trainees in most countries indicates the need for standardization in areas including training guidelines.