Ultrasound exposure during gross anatomy

J Emerg Med. 2014 Feb;46(2):231-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2013.08.028. Epub 2013 Oct 7.


Background: As medical schools seek to standardize ultrasound training and incorporate clinical correlations into the basic science years, we proposed that ultrasonography should have a greater role in the anatomy curriculum.

Objectives: To describe the introduction of ultrasound into the curriculum of a first-year medical student anatomy course and evaluate the utility of this introduction.

Methods: First-year medical students attended two ultrasound lectures and three small-group hands-on sessions that focused on selected aspects of musculoskeletal, thoracic, abdominal, and neck anatomy. Pre and post surveys were administered to assess student perception of their ability to obtain and interpret ultrasound images and the utility of ultrasound in the anatomy course. Understanding of basic ultrasound techniques and imaging was tested in the practical examinations.

Results: Of the 269 first-year medical students who completed the course, 144 students completed both surveys entirely, with a response rate of 53%. Students' interest and self-perceived experience, comfort, and confidence in ultrasound skills significantly increased (p < 0.001) as a result of this early introduction to ultrasonography. Objective evidence, provided by practical examination scores on ultrasound images, is consistent with this self-perceived confidence reported by students.

Conclusions: Ultrasound can be effectively incorporated into an anatomy course for first-year medical students by utilizing didactics and hands-on exposure. Medical students found the addition of ultrasound training to be valuable, not only in enhancing their understanding of anatomy, but also in increasing their interest and experience in ultrasound imaging.

Keywords: anatomy; curriculum; education; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anatomy / education*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cohort Studies
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Ultrasonography*